Witness describes crime scene at Laval home as Adele Sorella's 1st-degree murder trial gets underway
'Adele Sorella had the exclusive opportunity to commit the murder of her two young daughters': Crown to jury
The Crown prosecutor in the trial of Adele Sorella told the jurors that the 52-year-old Laval woman was the only one with the opportunity to murder her young daughters in 2009.
Nektarios Tzortzinas made the comment in his opening statements in Sorella's first-degree murder trial, which got underway in the Laval courthouse Monday.
Sorella is facing two counts of first-degree murder in connection with the deaths of her daughters, Amanda, 9, and Sabrina, 8.
Tzortzinas told the six women and six men of the jury that the girls were found side by side on the floor of the family room of their home, wearing their school uniforms, on March 31, 2009.
"Even though the exact cause of the deaths is not known, the simultaneous and unexpected deaths of two girls who were in otherwise good health cannot be taken as a natural death," said Tzortzinas.
Husband on the run from police
Tzortinas told the jury that Sorella had been married to Giuseppe di Vito, who was on the run from authorities at the time of his daughters' deaths, following a police crackdown on organized crime three years earlier dubbed Operation Colisée.
The prosecutor said some witnesses will testify that Sorella was living through a difficult period at the time of the girls' deaths and that she had tried to kill herself on several occasions.
Sorella's mother, who was living with her, left the house at 9:00 that morning, Tzortinas said.
"That would be the last time she would see her granddaughters alive," said Tzortzinas.
The girls never made it to school that day.
He told the jury that Sorella later left a message for her brother. Upon hearing it, he rushed to the home and found the inanimate bodies of his two nieces. His sister was nowhere to be found.
Sorella was arrested after a car accident in the middle of the night.
Tzortzinas said the house had a hyperbaric chamber that was used to treat Sabrina's juvenile arthritis. He said it was seized by police and analyzed by experts.
He told the jurors they will hear the results and conclusions of that analysis.
Tzortzinas told the jurors he is confident they will find Sorella guilty of first-degree murder.
"I ask you to retain from everything I told you that Adele Sorella had the exclusive opportunity to commit the murder of her two young daughters, Amanda and Sabrina."
1st witness describes scene
Tzortzinas then presented the first Crown witness, Gilbert Déry, a technician with the Laval Police forensics division.
Déry described how he went into the home the day after the deaths and measured the various rooms and spaces of the home.
With the aid of police photos from the crime scene, he drew two-dimensional drawings of the home using a specialized software, outlining the furniture and other items in the drawings. The girls' bodies were also mapped out in the floor plans.
Déry described the home as posh and luxurious.
Under questioning from defence lawyer Pierre Poupart, Déry said he noticed a hyperbaric chamber in one of the rooms upstairs. He said he did not know what it was used for.
The Quebec Superior Court justice presiding over the trial warned jurors this morning it risks being a long trial.
"This is not like television where everything is wrapped up in an hour," Justice Sophie Bourque told the six men and six women, as she gave the jury instructions on what to expect and how the trial will proceed.
Bourque reminded jurors of the oath they took last week when they were sworn in. She instructed them to listen attentively to the evidence and to render a verdict based solely on the evidence presented before them and nothing else.
She told them the accused is presumed innocent throughout the trial, and right until the end of their deliberations. If they are to find Adele Sorella guilty at the end of those deliberations, it must be beyond all reasonable doubt.
The trial is expected to last until February, with a two-week break over the holidays.