MONTREAL -- The partner of a 33-year-old woman who was killed at a home in Mascouche, about 45 km north of Montreal, has been charged with second-degree murder at the Joliette courhouse.

His long hair loose and mussed, Benoit Cardinal, 33, was limping as he was escorted into the courthouse by two SQ officers on Friday, and was wheeled into the courtroom in a wheelchair.

The victim, Jaël Cantin, died in hospital Thursday after she was found in a home on des Anglais Road. At the time, the Sûreté du Québec (SQ) said officers also found Cardinal, injured, in the home.

SQ spokesperson Eloïse Cossette said officers also found six children in the home. She adds the children are "important witnesses" to the incident and some of them were interviewed by police.

Cardinal was arrested Thursday at 7 p.m. in connection with the woman's death. 

He had recently left his job at a youth centre in Laval, Que.

The regional health board in the area said in a statement Friday that at the end of December they were made aware of "inappropriate behaviour" by a staffer and launched an investigation.

Cardinal was suspended after the allegations and resigned last Friday.

The health board said it offered Cardinal psychological support.

In the aftermath of the slaying, the board has set up a support system for employees, users and their families and is collaborating with various groups for investigative purposes.

Police have remained tight-lipped about what might have happened in the residence on des Anglais Road.

If convicted, Cardinal would face a minimum sentence of life in prison with no chance of parole for 10 years. The maximum sentence he faces is life in prison, with no chance of parole for 25 years.

Cossette told CTV News officers are investigating several theories, including domestic violence.

Cardinal remains behind bars for the time being and returns to court on Feb. 26.

If convicted, this would be the third homicide linked to domestic violence in the Montreal area in recent months.

On average, 12 women in Quebec are killed by their partners every year. 

Prosecutor Valerie Michaud told reporters the Crown wants to shield the kids, who are between the ages of one and 12, as much as possible with the case pending.

"Obviously, we will be concerned with protecting the children as much as possible throughout the proceedings, with all the powers that the law gives us," Michaud said.

If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic abuse, here are some available resources:
SOS violence conjugale (1-800-363-9010)
Your local CLSC (Info-santé: 811)
Crime Victim Assistance Centre (1-866-532-2822)
Assistance aux femmes (514-270-8291)
Shield of Athena 514-274-8117 or 1-877-274-8117
Find the nearest shelter at Women's Shelters Canada

If you need immediate assistance, call 911 or go to the nearest hospital.