mtl-piedmont-cp-0221

The bodies of Guy Turcotte's children were found in this rented Piedmont home last year. ((Canadian Press))

A Quebec cardiologist charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of his two children was in court on Monday for his preliminary hearing.

Guy Turcotte, 37, appeared at the St-Jérôme courthouse north of Montreal for the first of four hearing days to determine whether he should stand trial.

The cardiologist has been in police custody for the past year, since his two children Olivier, 5, and Anne-Sophie, 3, were found stabbed to death in their parents' rented home in the Laurentians town of Piedmont on Feb. 21, 2009.

mtl-guy-turcotte-0224

Guy Turcotte, a 37-year-old cardiologist, faces two first-degree murder charges. ((CBC))

Turcotte was found lying on the floor after attempting suicide. He had to be transferred to a Montreal hospital for treatment because his colleagues at the Hôtel-Dieu Regional Hospital in nearby Saint-Jérôme couldn't treat him.

The mother of the children, Isabelle Gaston, was skiing in Charlevoix the weekend they died. Gaston, an emergency-room physician, was separated from Turcotte at the time.

Crown prosecutor Claudia Carbonneau has four days to present evidence supporting the province's request for Turcotte to stand trial.

His preliminary hearing is subject to a publication ban on any evidence presented in court.

Turcotte's mother, Marguerite Fournier, took the stand on Monday with tearful testimony delivered to a packed courtroom. Turcotte cried repeatedly while his mother testified, and appeared ashen, said CBC News reporter Amanda Pfeffer.

Gaston is expected to take the stand as early as Tuesday.