Quebec man found guilty of murdering political aide
Francis Proulx has been found guilty of first-degree murder in the death of Nancy Michaud, a political aide to Quebec's natural resources minister.
A nine-woman, three-man jury rendered its unanimous verdict Wednesday afternoon after two days of deliberation.
Proulx, 30, confessed to killing Michaud a year ago in Rivière-Ouelle, a small town in the Lower Saint-Lawrence region.
The jury had four verdict choices: first-degree (premeditated) murder, second-degree murder, involuntary homicide or criminally not responsible.
Michaud's husband, Daniel Casgrain, jumped to his feet in the courtroom after the judge read out the jury's verdict.
The outburst was "stronger than me" Casgrain later told reporters in the hallway. "I am so relieved. We've found this very hard, and we're really tired," he told reporters in French, his voice trembling.
"I'm still very angry, and will never turn the page," he added. "But it will allow us to continue living. I have two children with me, this will allow us to go on."
Crown prosecutor Annie Landreville said she was "rather confident" that the two-month trial would result in a strong conviction.
"The verdict corresponds to the evidence," she said outside the courtroom.
Quebec City court Judge Jacques Lévesque told the jury Monday that an acquittal was impossible, given that Proulx admitted he killed Michaud.
But Proulx's lawyers argued he should not be held criminally responsible for the murder, because he was incapable of understanding the consequences of his actions given his mental state, triggered by Effexor, an antidepressant medication he took for anxiety.
Proulx faces life in prison with no parole for 25 years. He will return to court in June to face other charges related to Michaud's death, including necrophilia and sexual assault.
Michaud's body was found in an abandoned house in Rivière-Ouelle. Her death shocked the small, close-knit community.
"It was very hard," said Mayor Roger Richard. "She was a village girl."
Michaud, a mother of two, worked as a riding assistant for Natural Resources Minister Claude Béchard.
With files from The Canadian Press