Triple infanticide suspect deemed fit to appear in court
Published Friday, January 4, 2013 2:14PM EST
Last Updated Friday, January 4, 2013 5:12PM EST
DRUMMONDVILLE, Que. - Sonia Blanchette, 33, the mother who allegedly drowned her three young children last December, has been deemed able to understand the charges she faces, but a court will still have to establish if she's fit for trial on charges of premeditated murder.
The decision was announced Friday morning at a Drummondville court room and was based on a report that resulted from a month of tests at a Sherbrooke hospital.
Blanchette appeared less disoriented than she did in her previous court appearance but did not utter a word and avoided all eye contact.
Sonia Blanchette faces three counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of two-year-old Anais, four-year-old Loic and five-year-old Lorelie.
At the time of the deaths, Blanchette was only permitted to visit her children for one day every two weeks and only under the supervision of her mother, who -- for unknown reasons -- was absent at the time of her visit on Dec. 2, 2012 at 596 Turcotte in Drummondville.
Blanchette was hospitalized for three days after the children died, apparently after attempting to take her own life by poisoning.
A judge was told in mid-December that more time was needed to determine whether Blanchette is fit to stand trial.
The three criteria for being able to stand trial are an ability to understand the charges, have a basic understanding of the way a trial works and to be able to cooperate with a defense attorney.
The legal discussion Friday revolved around the first of those three elements and it was deemed that she did indeed understand the charges. Where Blanchette stands on the other two criteria remains to be determined.
In spite of the decision, Blanchette's lawyer might still enter an insanity plea for his client.
When St-Jerome cardiologist Guy Turcotte was tried for the murder of his children, the same approach was used and a jury found him not criminally responsible, even though he had been deemed fit to stand trial.
Like Turcotte, Blanchette has requested a jury trial.
She will return to court on March 28 to decide if her lawyer wants to go through a preliminary inquiry.
It was also reported that Blanchette might be pregnant, although this remains unconfirmed.
Blanchette’s lawyer and the crown prosecutor declined to comment on the case Thursday.
The father of the dead children, Patrick Desautels, was not present in court.
-With a file from The Canadian Press
Sonia Blanchette was accused of drowning her three young children seen here.