Accused triple murderer Jacob Forman confessed to killing his wife and two young daughters, court heard Tuesday.
Forman confessed during a call he made to the Kelowna RCMP from the Okanagan Correctional Centre, where he was taken after being arrested, Crown prosecutor Murray Kay said at the start of Forman’s murder trial.
That conversation was recorded, as was a subsequent in-person interview with police in which he again admitted killing his family, Kay said.
Forman also made self-incriminating comments during conversations he had with his brother and his pastor, as well as in letters he wrote to family friends, Kay said.
Judge Allan Betton, who is hearing the case without a jury, must still determine the admissibility of the statements said to have been made by Forman. The issue of admissibility is expected to take several weeks to resolve.
Forman is charged with the first degree murder of his two daughters, eight-year-old Yesenia Kate, and seven-year-old Karina Anne. He is charged with the second-degree murder of his wife, Clara.
On Tuesday in court, Forman was asked how he pleaded to the charges.
“I am responsible, but I’m not guilty of what the Crown is saying,” Forman, dressed in red prison garb and wearing leg irons, said in identical responses that he offered, after a pause, to each of the three charges. He appeared emotional and asked a sheriff for tissues.
Betton told the court clerk to enter pleas of not guilty on Forman’s behalf.
Police were called to Forman’s home on Bolotzky Court in Rutland on Dec. 19, 2017.
On Tuesday, court heard an audio recording of the first conversation Forman had with police that day, beginning at 6:57 p.m., inside the family home.
Forman tells one officer he doesn’t know where his wife and girls are, suggesting Clara may have taken their children out of the country.
“She mentioned a few days ago she was going to leave me, and I didn’t really believe her,” Forman says.
Forman explains how he goes to work early at his job, at Ace Plumbing and Heating, leaving the house about 6 a.m. He says he returned home at 2 p.m. that day to find no one home.
Just four minutes into the interview, another officer who’d searched the home’s garage interrupts and tells Forman, “Sir, you’re under arrest for murder.”
Police read Forman his rights and ask him if he wants to call a lawyer.
“No thanks,” he replies.
An officer brusquely asks Forman, “Where are the children?”
He replies, “I don’t know.”
“Yes you do,” the officer says.
“Did you find Clara? What did you find? Please tell me,” Forman begs.
Police don’t answer. Forman is taken to the Kelowna RCMP station, arriving about 7:30 p.m. At that point, he does ask for a lawyer.
Earlier, Kay said Forman did not offer anything incriminatory during three initial interviews with police, conducted on Dec. 20, and Dec. 21.
But on Dec. 27, Kay said, Forman called Kelowna RCMP from the provincial jail near Oliver where he was being held.
“It was a five-minute phone call, during which Mr. Forman confessed,” Kay said.
Police then went to the jail and had another videotaped interview with Forman, in which he again confessed, Kay said.
During a recorded conversation Forman had with his brother, Jason Forman, the accused again made “incriminatory comments,” Kay said. And Forman wrote “inculpatory statements” in letters he mailed from jail to family friends, Kay said. A month after the killings, Forman also confessed to his pastor, Kay says.
The murder charges against Forman allege his wife and daughters were killed sometime between Dec. 17 and Dec. 19, 2017.
Forman was originally charged with the second-degree murder of all three victims. But the charges were subsequently upgraded to first-degree murder for the deaths of the two young girls.
Jacob and Clara, who was originally from Mexico, were married on Nov. 11, 2005. Their girls were home-schooled with the support of Heritage Christian Online School, and Clara worked as an instructor at Good Life Fitness.
On the couple’s 10th wedding anniversary, Clara wrote on Facebook: “Met in January, started dating in July, engaged October 27th, married three weeks later on November 11th at sunset. When I married Jacob Forman I left everything I knew to come to Canada and build a life. God blessed our feeble efforts with good jobs, good friends, a great church and most importantly, 2 of the best little humans a couple of people could ask for. 10 years later, you are still the person I want to grow old with.”