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New trial ordered for former Quebec doctor who killed his kids

By Arthur Weinreb     Nov 14, 2013 in Crime
Quebec - The Quebec Court of Appeal ordered a new trial for former cardiologist Guy Turcotte who was found not criminally responsible for the killing of his two children in 2009.
The decision in the case of Guy Turcotte was handed down yesterday. Citing legal errors in the trial judge's charge to the jury, the court set aside the findings of not criminally responsible and ordered a new trial for the former Quebec doctor.
On Feb. 21, 2009, police went to Turcotte's home in Piedmont, Quebec and found the bodies of his two children, Olivier, 5, and Anne-Sophie, 3. The children had been stabbed to death. Relatives had not heard from Turcotte for a few days and called authorities.
Turcotte was also found in the home and was rushed to hospital.
Turcotte and his wife, Dr. Isabelle Gaston, had been separated for about a month and the doctor was looking after the children while his wife was away on a skiing trip. He had recently discovered Gaston was having an affair.
According to the cardiologist, he began drinking windshield washer fluid but then decided he did not want the children to find their father dead. So he stabbed them both to death.
Turcotte was charged with two counts of first-degree murder and his trial began in June 2011. The fact the children died at the hands of their father was never in dispute. The Crown argued Turcotte was guilty of first-degree murder because the killing of the children was planned and deliberate. The defense evidence was Turcotte was depressed, drank the fluid and blacked out. The doctor claimed he had no recollection of stabbing his children 46 times.
After the 10-week trial, the jury was in the sixth day of deliberations when they rendered their verdict on July 5, 2011. Turcotte was found not criminally responsible. The Crown appealed.
Turcotte was confined to a mental hospital after the verdict but was released in December 2012.
In handing down its decision, the Quebec Court of Appeal found the trial judge's instructions to the jury were deficient and the deficiencies had a major impact on their findings. The trial judge did not make it clear Turcotte had the burden of proof to prove he did not have the capacity to commit murder due to mental incapacity. There was confusion between the lack of mental capacity and intoxication. The appeals court found the judge had a difficult job in light of the confusing way prosecutors made their arguments.
Turcotte's case was one of the high profile cases of not criminally responsible that led the Conservative government to introduce Bill C-54. The bill makes it more difficult for those found not criminally responsible to gain their freedom.
After the decision was handed down, an arrest warrant was issued for Turcotte. The former doctor surrendered to police and is due to make his first court appearance today.
More about guy turcotte, parents killing children, not criminally responsible, quebec court of appeal, isabelle gaston
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