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Canadian farmer faces prison for killing his disabled daughter

A Saskatchewan farmer convicted of murdering his disabled daughter said Thursday he was only trying to spare her years of torture.

Robert Latimer was convicted Wednesday for the second time in the murder of his 12-year-old daughter in a case that has sharply divided euthanasia advocates and groups representing disabled people across Canada.

"People say this is a handicapped issue. But they are wrong. This is an issue of torture," Latimer said in a news conference broadcast live on Canadian television.

He said his biggest fear now was going to prison.

A jury convicted Latimer, 44, of second-degree murder after five hours of deliberation. He was previously convicted in the case three years ago, but a retrial was ordered.

Latimer now faces a minimum of 10 years in prison and will be sentenced next week. He has been released on his own recognizance until sentencing.

Latimer pleaded innocent but admitted killing Tracy out of compassion because of the severe pain she was in from worsening cerebral palsy. He told police he gassed his daughter in the cab of his truck on the family farm Oct. 24, 1993.

On Wednesday, Latimer's wife, Laura, leaped from her chair at the time of verdict screaming, "No, no, no!" Latimer rushed to her side to comfort her.

In an unusual move, defense lawyer Mark Brayford next Thursday will seek a constitutional exemption from the mandatory 25-year sentence and 10-year wait for parole eligibility.

Jurors were not told the penalty Latimer would face before the verdict, and some of them wept when they learned it.

The jury recommended that Latimer should be eligible for parole after one year _ a largely symbolic move considering the law.

Tracy was unable to walk, talk or feed herself. She weighed less than 40 pounds and functioned at the level of a 3-month-old. She had undergone major surgery on her back, hips and legs.

The prospect of further surgery was more than Tracy's parents could bear, Laura Latimer testified during the trial.

A psychiatrist said Latimer's phobia of needles and bodily injury contributed to his decision to kill Tracy.