Monday, November 30, 2009

Scorned husband gets 25 to life for slashing wife, strangling her lover's wife

A suburban Toronto man who killed the wife who cheated on him by slashing her throat and kidnapping and killing another woman was sentenced to 25 years to life Friday in a Toronto courtroom.

Christopher Little slashed the throat of his estranged wife, Julie Crocker, on February 12, 2007 in their marital bed at their home in Markham, a suburb immediately north of Toronto. To cover up this crime, just before the murder of the wife, he stalked, kidnapped, then strangled the wife of his wife's "lover", 33 year old Paula Memendez. The reason Little killed Menendez was to make it appear as it Menendez avenged herself by killing Crocker, then hanging herself. In addition, sportscaster Rick Ralph would lose his mistress and wife.

The Crown portrayed Little as angry, humiliated and utterly alone after his wife of nine years left him to begin a romantic relationship with Ralph, a radio sportscaster. However, Little, a father of two, appeared calm and spoke in a monotone through most of his four days on the witness stand in Newmarket court this month.

"I'm not an angry person," Little told the jury of six men and six women, when pressed for his reaction to his wife Crocker's repeated affairs with other men. The only flash of visible emotion during Little's testimony came when he appeared to shed tears as he described discovering the murder scenes at his home on a quiet, prosperous Markham street.

[The]court heard that Little planted a GPS tracking device in her Volvo, which he used to surprise her and Ralph when he found them together in a downtown Toronto hotel room next door to Crocker and Ralph's offices at Rogers Communications in September 2006. "Julie, I know you're in there. Rick, I know you're in there," Little said as he peered in a peephole, according to Ralph's testimony. "Let's settle this like adults."

Ralph told court that Little also threatened to call Menendez that night, not realizing that her marriage was also virtually over. Anger, not humiliation, was Crocker reaction, Ralph said. "She was mad," Ralph told court. "She said Chris had probably installed it using her money and she was going to force him to remove it."
Court heard that Little tested Crocker's clothing for semen in 2005 and again in August 2006, when he found a positive match for another man's semen on her golf shirt. That man's identity was never determined, since Ralph testified that he hadn't become intimate with Crocker at this point.

The jury did not see a videotape of Little drugging and assaulting Crocker sexually while she was unconscious.

Outside the courthouse, Judy Crocker, Julie's mother, said that her daughter was a devoted mom. "As a mother, Julie was protective and devoted to her children. They adored her and she loved them fiercely...During the trial, the individual permitted to say the most about Julie was the man who committed this horrific act of violence."

Judy Crocker said her daughter was only trying to let Little down easy, since he couldn't accept they were no longer a couple. "In fact, it was her kindness and concern for her husband, her efforts to make things easier for him, which led to the prolongation of a marriage that had been essentially over for a very long time."

Claudia Johnston, Menendez' sister said this about her sister.
"Sadly, the punishment will never be enough for any of us because it will not offset the sentence that we all have to serve. That is living our lifetimes without Paula. Despite Chris's and Mr. Rosen's deplorable efforts in spinning stories and attempts at obscuring the truth with lies, the jury was able to see past it, use their common sense and help bring some closure to our families."

Defence lawyer John Rosen argued Menendez might have been driven to end her life and the life of Crocker out of despair over her crumbling marriage to Ralph. Menendez's family said this was totally untrue.

"Paula had a great deal to look forward to. Her life had taken an unexpected turn, and while sad, she had the vision and the strength to work past this as she eagerly made plans for her future. Alternatively, Chris Little did not possess the same courage to deal with the challenges of his life and instead carried out this very cowardly act against two innocent and defenceless women."

Justice Fuerst said in passing sentence that "You slashed the throat of the woman you professed to love so severely that her head almost came off...It's difficult to imagine a greater callousness than robbing children of their mother's love."
Fuerst said about Menendez' murder that "Paula Menendez was truly an innocent player ... in a production cast and staged by you and you alone...She was facing her future with grace and courage. You saw to it that the pain you inflicted increased a thousand-fold when you sought out and publicly labelled her a homicidal, suicidal maniac day after day in this court. Let there be no mistake. Paula Menendez was your victim."

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