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Man charged with second-degree murder in stabbing deaths of 2 women near Montreal

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A 44-year-old Quebec man has been charged with two counts of second-degree murder in the stabbing deaths of two women Thursday west of Montreal.

Fabio Puglisi is accused of killing his mother, 68-year-old Elisabetta Puglisi-Caucci, and a neighbour, 53-year-old Manon Blanchard. 

Puglisi is also facing charges of attempted murder and aggravated assault against another neighbour, a 70-year-old woman, who was seriously injured in the attack but is now in stable condition.

The accused appeared at the Salaberry-de-Valleyfield courthouse via videoconference late Friday morning to be formally charged. Wearing a black t-shirt and a white jumpsuit and with both of his hands bandaged during the appearance, he repeatedly spoke over the lawyers and the judge as he pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Police are seen apprehending a suspect outside an apartment building in Vaudreuil-Dorion, Que., west of Montreal, where multiple people were stabbed, in a still frame taken from handout video footage, captured on a smartphone by a witness on Thursday, Feb. 15, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Piero Gervasi

At his defence lawyer's request, he will be assessed at the Philippe-Pinel psychiatric hospital in Montreal to determine if he is fit to stand trial. He is scheduled to appear in court again on Feb. 22.

The accused was sent to hospital to be treated for minor injuries after he was arrested by Quebec provincial police Thursday at an apartment complex on Émile Bouchard Street in Vaudreuil-Dorion, an off-island suburb of Montreal, where the attacks took place. 

The Sûreté du Québec (SQ) was called to the residential building just before noon to respond to a call about multiple people being stabbed.

According to a witness at the scene, the accused appeared to be in a state of crisis.

In October 2020, he was deemed not to represent a public safety risk and was released without condition following a decision by Quebec's mental health review board, the Commission d’examen des troubles mentaux. At the time, he was considered to be in a stable mental state, there was no violence reported, and he lived with his mother, according to the commission, which found that he was well supported by family. The decision also noted a diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder.

More recently, court records show that Puglisi was due in court last Friday for an alleged assault on a woman that took place on Nov. 16, 2023. He was charged on Jan. 30 and subsequently released from custody.

The records also show that he was twice found not criminally responsible in separate criminal cases in 2012 and in 2020.

The most recent case involved an alleged fraud, while the first case involved charges of assault with a weapon, dangerous driving and hit-and-run. In the latter case, the commission described the incident as "an attack on a motorist on the highway in a paranoid delusional experience."

With files from CTV News Montreal's Kelly Greig and The Canadian Press

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