Canada Guy Turcotte seeks to shorten term for parole eligibility

21:01  13 march  2018
21:01  13 march  2018 Source:   montrealgazette.com

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031318-1218_na_turcotte© Graham Hughes 031318-1218_na_turcotte

Guy Turcotte, the man who killed his two young children by brutally stabbing them to death, is appealing his sentence in an effort to have his parole eligibility reduced.

The former cardiologist received a life sentence on Dec. 6, 2015, after he was convicted by a jury of the second-degree murders of his son Olivier, 5, and Anne Sophie, 3. He killed his children on Feb. 20, 2009, at his home in Piedmont, in the Laurentians.

Superior Court Justice André Vincent called the crimes “odious and horrible” before he set Turcotte’s parole eligibility at 17 years, well beyond the minimum of 10. Turcotte’s lawyer, Pierre Poupart, is expected to argue on Tuesday that Vincent did not take Turcotte’s mental state at the time of the murders into consideration before delivering the sentence. The lawyer also argued that Turcotte does not represent a risk to the rest of society.

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While making his arguments before a panel of three Quebec Court of Appeal judges on Tuesday, Poupart stated that Turcotte now respects the decision the jury delivered in 2015. Turcotte initially launched an appeal of the verdict as well, in January 2016, but he withdrew the request months later.

Poupart characterized the murders as crimes committed by a man who was under a great deal of stress and was in a state of hopelessness over the failure of his relationship with ‎Isabelle Gaston, the mother of the two children. The defence lawyer focused much of his attention on how, in his decision, Vincent wrote that the murders were committed “in cold blood,” despite having heard testimony from four psychiatrists who said otherwise.

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‎At one point in Tuesday’s hearing, Justice Allan Hilton raised the question of whether Turcotte still represents a danger to Gaston, who was in attendance at the hearing on Tuesday.

“The real victim targeted was not the children, but Mrs. Gaston,” Hilton suggested at one point while Poupart argued. According to evidence presented at trial, the relationship between Turcotte and Gaston fell apart after he learned she was having an affair with a mutual friend.

“It was not that at all,” Poupart replied, arguing there was no evidence presented at trial that Turcotte’s intentions were to punish Gaston for having left him.

Poupart did not specifically say by how much he wants the appellate court to reduce Turcotte’s parole eligibility, but he argued that “the difference between 17 years and 14 years is 365 nights times three.” During sentencing arguments, he had asked Vincent to set the eligibility at somewhere close to 10 years. In his decision, Vincent wrote that Poupart’s suggestion back then “did not meet the principal of proportionality and does not reflect the moral culpability of the offender.” Vincent also called the Crown’s suggestion that Turcotte serve 20 years before he is eligible for parole “an exaggeration.”

Turcotte had served 57 months behind bars by the time he was sentenced by Vincent on Jan. 15, 2016. He has served more than two years since then and, for the time being, he will be eligible for parole in 2028.

Prosecutor René Verret will present the Crown’s arguments Tuesday afternoon.

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