A former Quebec physician who killed his two young children but was found not criminally responsible for the deaths will remain at a psychiatric hospital for at least six more months, with some supervised outings.
Guy Turcotte has been detained at the Pinel Psychiatric Institute in Montreal since a jury found him not criminally responsible for his children's murders.
A panel of five experts ruled Tuesday that the 39-year-old cardiologist can be gradually granted more freedom via supervised outings over the next three months.
After three months, Turcotte will be allowed unsupervised visits — although the panel said hospital officials can suspend the trips if his mental state deteriorates, or if public safety is threatened.
The Crown and the facility wanted Turcotte to stay at the hospital for at least another year. Turcotte's lawyer argued he was ready to be released into the community.
But the mental-health panel decided neither solution fit Turcotte's case.
"The commission concludes that the accused remains very fragile," says the 17-page ruling.
"The evidence has not shown that [Turcotte] has acquired the skills necessary to meet the very great difficulties he will encounter during his rehabilitation."
After five months, he will be allowed to leave unescorted up to 16 hours a day and can stay overnight with family members as long as they are with him.
Turcotte is also forbidden from having contact with his ex-wife, Isabelle Gaston, or her new partner, or be within 500 metres of their home or place of employment.
Gaston has said she opposes his release and fears for her safety. She was out of town on Tuesday, but her brother reacted to the mental-health panel's decision, calling it the "the height of absurdirty" and saying he was "very disappointed."
Turcotte, his lawyers and several experts have appeared before the mental health review board at Pinel several times in the past year.
He was charged with first-degree murder in 2009 after he admitted he repeatedly stabbed his children, Anne-Sophie, 3, and Olivier, 5, while they were staying with him in a rented home north of Montreal.
Turcotte denied intent, and testified at his jury trial that he was deeply distraught about the collapse of his marriage.
At the conclusion of his trial, the jury decided Turcotte was suffering from a mental disorder at the time of the killings and was not criminally responsible.
Crown prosecutors are appealing the criminal verdict, because it believes the judge erred in his instructions to the jury. The Quebec Court of Appeal has yet to rule on whether it will hear the case.
Turcotte resigned from Quebec's College of Physicians in 2009, but has expressed an interest in working as a doctor again.