I don’t know about you all out there but I find it very difficult to believe that a medical specialist (i.e. a doctor) can’t succeed a suicide attempt if that is really the end goal.

Firstly, a disclaimer, I am not and was not privy to all the evidence adduced in the 3 month 2011 trial and I am fairly certain neither were most of you. Nor am I a criminal specialist (but I do watch many of the crime shows on TV), but I am part of Joe Q Public; without the 6 pack!.

Secondly, I do believe a person can be in a fugue state for a very brief period of time only to regain “sanity” immediately thereafter. I do not however believe that this is what happened on the evening of February 20, 2009.

Thirdly, who in their right mind [pun intended] hasn’t, by now, formed an opinion of this case one way or another, to be able to sit as a jury member? Of the 1650 potential jurors called upon to serve, I guess those 12 unlucky citizens who were selected are presumed unbiased, but will they honestly be able to come to the jury box without already some preconceived notions?

On the flip side, I ponder why a second trial is happening at all. Was it in fact due to real “errors” by Trial Judge Jean Marc David, in his instructions to the jury that led our Court of Appeal to overturn Turcotte’s “conviction” of being not criminally responsible [N.C.R.] for the deaths of his children? Or was it public outrage that led to the pressure to find a path to this 2nd trial? I believe the only reason that the first judgment was appealed by the Crown was due to the out-pouring of negative opinion by the public at large because the media-fuelled outcry actually powered the decision to appeal.

And low and behold, two years after the verdict of 2011, a new trial was ordered on November 13, 2013, the same day Turcotte turned himself in; he was formally re-arrested and charged the following day. Turcotte had been released from the Pinel Institute after only 46 months. This being one digit short of the 47 stab wounds inflicted on the children by their Father. Turcotte’s release from the Pinel Institute in December 2012 was another decision that stoked the public’s ire. BTW: It does not take 46 stabs to kill 5 & 3 year old children, but such overkill does tend to convey that the perpetrator must have been out of his mind, thereby laying groundwork for the N.C.R. defence.

Turcotte’s appeal to the Supreme Court, to overturn the decision ordering a new trial, was denied in March 2014. So the Brothers Grimm, Mtres Pierre & Guy Poupart, will endeavour for a second time, to convince, dare I say bamboozle, the 12 member jury into again concluding that Turcotte is not criminally responsible, a feat I suspect that will most likely be much harder this second time at bat. Even if the defence may have a fair idea of the proof the Crown will proffer, there is still the uphill battle against those preconceived opinions.

If, by some fluke, this trial produces the same result as trial #1, I ask myself if that means Turcotte will be again relegated to Pinel. The Government saw fit to pass legislation in 2014 to make it harder for those considered N.C.R. to obtain early release. That may be fine for those defendants in future cases, but not in this one. After all, the powers that be there already deemed him to be sane in 2012, and not a danger to society, which is why he was released. Do we expect them to arrive at another conclusion should the trial again produce a not criminally responsible verdict? How can they even send Turcotte back to Pinel, as he hasn’t stabbed anyone else since 2009 (to my knowledge)? That would equate to the Institute admitting they were wrong in 2012. I for one find that an unlikely scenario.

So unless this trial produces a guilty verdict, the entire exercise of the “justice” system will have been for naught. Can’t wait for the made for TV movie. Maybe there we can at least find real justice.

Me Hammerschmid is a practicing Family Law Attorney since 1982 and Senior Partner at Hammerschmid & Associates, 1 Westmount Square, Suite 1290; and a founding and current member (past Secretary for 28 years) of the Family Law Association of Quebec. She can be reached at 514-846-1013 or [email protected]. Inquiries treated confidentially.
A frequent guest inn CBC TV/Radio, CTV and CJAD on Family Law; Me Hammerschmid is a monthly guest with Dr. Laurie Betito on CJAD’s Passion, on the last Thursday of each month.