Prosecutors seek new trial in Guy Turcotte case
Published Monday, September 30, 2013 6:18PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, September 30, 2013 8:47PM EDT
It was a verdict that infuriated many Quebecers and raised questions about the legal defence he used, and now the Guy Turcotte case is back in court.
Turcotte was found not criminally responsible for stabbing his two young children to death in 2009. Turcotte was freed from the Pinel Institute late last year after 46 months there.
Crown prosecutors are now seeking to convince a panel of three judges to order a new trial, a process that may take several months.
“They have to decide whether or not there is a mistake, or error,” said Jean-Pascal Boucher of the Crown prosecutor’s office.
A serious error of law was committed by the trial judge Marc David, the Crown suggests.
Crown prosecutor Michel Pennou maintains that giving the jury the option of a not criminally responsible verdict was wrong, because being found not criminally responsible means the person didn't have the capacity to know what he was doing or didn't know right from wrong due to mental illness.
The prosecutor argued Monday that that type of verdict should apply in cases of mental illness but not in this type of situation, where Turcotte drank methanol and became intoxicated before committing the crime.
Pennou said Turcotte, a cardiologist, consumed the methanol voluntarily. The defense argued Turcotte had a mental disorder brought about by the breakup of his marriage, and was suicidal; therefore drinking the poison was part of the mental illness.
The prosecution also argued that in his directions to the jury, the judge did not make sure that what they called contradictory and convoluted expert testimony was clear to the jury.
Turcotte’s ex-wife, and the mother of their two children, Isabelle Gaston is a doctor herself. She also questions the psychiatrists' expertise, and the adjustment disorder they assigned to him.
“When you look at the definition of an adjustment disorder, you won't find a loss of contact with reality, you won't find an automatism,” she said. “I think that if we open the door saying that a person who has suicidal thinking or has a maladaptive disorder can't recognize the good and the bad, I think we're opening a door that is very dangerous for me.”
Describing this appeals process as a step forward, Gaston said it's also terribly painful to relive details of the day her children were stabbed to death by their father.
“I felt sad a little bit, like the stress is coming out, so yes for me it's a big step for our justice system to repair what for me is the biggest injustice,” she said.