Guy Turcotte to appeal 2nd-degree murder conviction

A former Quebec cardiologist is appealing his second-degree murder conviction in the killing of his two children.

Former cardiologist's lawyers claim judge caused confusion in explaining intoxication

Guy Turcotte, righy, has been tried twice for the murder of his two children. (Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press)

Guy Turcotte is appealing his second-degree murder conviction for the killing of his two children.

The Quebec Superior Court found the former cardiologist guilty of second-degree murder last month in the 2009 stabbing deaths of Olivier, 5, and Anne-Sophie, 3.

In its appeal notice, the defence argues Quebec Superior Court Justice Andre Vincent erred in law on more than one occasion in his directives to the jurors.

Turcotte's lawyers claim that Vincent:

  • Erred in telling the jury that they should not take into account Turcotte's suicidal mental state at the time of the murders;
  • Failed to give proper instruction on how to evaluate Turcotte's intoxication after drinking the windshield washer fluid;
  • Erred in his instructions to the jury, when he explained the notion of what it means for someone to understand that what "he was doing was wrong."

An appeal isn't likely to be heard in the near future. The Crown and defence will be given time to file motions with the court and a date will be set to hear the case on its merits. Transcripts must be drawn up from the recently completed trial before all that can happen.

During the trial, Turcotte testified he drank windshield washer fluid on the night of the killings in an attempt to end his own life and then stabbed his two children to spare them from waking up to a dead father.

Isabelle Gaston, ex-wife of Guy Turcotte, said during her victim impact statement that her 'heart still beats' for her slain children. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)
The children were stabbed a total of 46 times and found in their beds with wounds to their upper bodies — Olivier was attacked 27 times and Anne-Sophie another 19.

The defence claims the judge did not take into consideration Turcotte's suicidal state at the time of the killings.

Vincent told the jurors that to find Turcotte not criminally responsible, they had to believe he had proven he was incapable of judging the nature or quality of his acts or of knowing whether the acts were wrong.

The children's deaths came less than a month after Turcotte's marriage to his then-estranged wife, Isabelle Gaston, ended.

Tried twice for deaths of his children 

The trial was the second for Turcotte in connection with the deaths. 

In the first trial in 2011, Turcotte was found not criminally responsible. 

Crown prosecutors successfully appealed the original verdict in November 2013, and the country's highest court refused to hear Turcotte's appeal of that decision.

He is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 15.

The Crown recommended Turcotte serve at least 20 years in prison before being eligible to apply for parole, while the defence suggested he serve less than 15 years, and closer to 10, before being eligible to apply.

with files from The Canadian Press


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