Saturday, October 31, 2009

Mom charged with first-degree murder in the death of her autistic son.

The Toronto Sun reported on October 26 that a Mississauga woman was charged with the killing of her 15-year-old autistic son.

The report stated that the body of Tony Khor was found after Peel police were called to the Homewood Suites Hotel on Edwards Blvd., in the Hurontario St.-Hwy. 401 area, around 11 a.m. yesterday.

Const. J.P. Valade refused to say who called police, but sources confirmed the woman called authorities, saying the boy was dead.

Valade said the suspect and her husband had a domestic argument Saturday night. While she wasn't physically hurt, she apparently felt that she needed to leave the home and she booked a room at the hotel for her and her son, he said.

"Sometime between (Saturday) evening and (Sunday) morning," the teen was killed, Valade said.

Police said there were signs of trauma on the boy's body, but didn't release any details. Results from an autopsy have not been released.

Homicide detectives allege the boy's murder was premeditated and charged the boys mother with first-degree murder.

Police didn't reveal the severity of Khor's autism. The family is not known to police and Khor is the couple's only child, Valade said.

A similar incident happened more than a decade ago in Montreal where Charles Blais, an autistic boy, was killed by his mother. Blais's mom was charged but when prosecuted she was given a suspended sentence.

Alex Schadenberg, the executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition commented that these cases are particularly distressing because the autistic son will normally completely and totally trust and depend on his mother.

"My fourteen year-old son is autistic and I feel particularly connected to cases where a parent of an autistic child injures or kills there child, said Schadenberg. I understand the challenges in raising an autistic child and I do not claim to be a perfect parent but the thought of killing an autistic child is abhorent."

We cannot make a judgement on this case without further information. It is possible that Khor's mother was experiencing a total mental breakdown, but even if that were true the court should not consider autism as a mitigating factor but rather society needs to extend special legal protection to people with disabilities because of their vulnerable nature.

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