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Adèle Sorella, shown in this handout photo from the Laval police department, had been suffering from depression and was suicidal, according to her husband's lawyer. ((The Canadian Press))

The mother who is facing double-murder charges in the deaths of her two young girls had been suffering from depression for some time and was suicidal, her husband's lawyer says.

Adèle Sorella, 43, appeared in a Laval, Que., court Thursday afternoon and was charged with two counts of first-degree murder. The bodies of Sorella's daughters, Sabrina, 8, and Amanda, 9, were found Tuesday in the family's home in Laval, a community northwest of Montreal.

"It is a very sad story what happened there," said lawyer Daniel Roch, adding he was devastated to learn of the children's deaths. "We've been trying to help Adele to get treatments in the past and we've been unsuccessful."

Roch said he had spoke to hospital officials after Sorella had attempted suicide, but that she was released from hospital.

"At least if we're trying, help us. It's not a campaign against this person … it's just common sense," said Roch. "If you have someone who made a suicide attempt, and you have someone else on the side saying, 'I can help you, I can give you more information,' I think they should have heard me."

Police picked up Sorella early Wednesday morning after she crashed her car into a utility pole not far from her house. She was not injured and was taken to hospital. Sorella later told police she had fallen asleep behind the wheel.

RCMP warrant for husband

Sorella's husband, Giuseppe DeVito, is wanted by the RCMP. The force issued an arrest warrant for DeVito two years ago in connection with alleged drug offences in the wake of Operation Coliseum, a 2006 police roundup of 90 people in Ontario and Quebec with suspected ties to organized crime.

Roch wouldn't comment on whether his children's deaths could prompt DeVito to turn himself in.

Autopsies on the two girls were supposed to take place Thursday. But police said if they were poisoned it could be a few days before toxicology reports confirm what killed them.

Meanwhile, a judge has ordered Sorella to return to hospital where she will undergo psychiatric tests and return to court in a month.