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Trials and error in Canada

On a cold March night in 1998, volunteer firefighters found Leon Walchuk with traces of blood on his face, standing outside his burning farmhouse on the outskirts of Melville, Saskatchewan. Flames shot from the windows and the roof, and the fire lit up the prairie sky. His two small children, who had been staying with his parents nearby, had already rushed to the scene. “My dad came running out. He was all out of breath,” remembers Kimberly, five years old at the time. “We stood there watching the whole house burning.”

By the time the firefighters brought the blaze under control, much of the house was in ruins. Kimberly and her older brother, Steve, would soon discover that they had lost much more than their home. The body of their twenty-nine-year-old mother, Corinne, was found at the foot of the basement stairs, horribly burned, bruised, and beaten. Leon, then thirty-four, was promptly arrested, put on trial, and sentenced to life in prison two years later for setting the fire that killed her.

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