Quebecer admits to ending life of his wife with Alzheimer's, blames psychological distress

Michel Cadotte began testifying in his own defence Friday at his trial for the killing of his wife, Jocelyne Lizotte, 60, who was in an advanced stage of Alzheimer's disease.

Michel Cadotte, 57, accused of 2nd-degree murder for killing Jocelyne Lizotte, testifies in his own defence

Jocelyne Lizotte, left, and her sister Johanne Lizotte are seen in this undated handout photo provided by Quebec Superior Court. Jocelyne Lizotte was killed by her husband as she suffered from advanced Alzheimer's had told family she didn't want to end up like their mother, who also had the disease. (Handout/Quebec Superior Court/The Canadian Press)

A man charged with killing his wife at a Montreal long-term care institution told a jury Friday he struggled to provide care as her advanced Alzheimer's worsened.

As he began testifying at his second-degree murder trial, Michel Cadotte told the jury the disease took hold quickly of his wife, Jocelyne Lizotte, even before her formal Alzheimer's diagnosis in 2011.

By then, Cadotte said, he was overwhelmed, struggling to keep his job while caring for his wife at home.

"No one," Cadotte replied when his lawyer Elfriede Duclervil asked who was helping him look after his wife.

Often fighting tears, Cadotte, 57, said friends and relatives began to keep their distance.

Stretched too thin, Cadotte said he finally agreed in March 2013 to Lizotte's hospitalization.

Lizotte, 60, was found dead in her bed on Feb. 20, 2017 at the Emilie-Gamelin residence, where she'd been living for three years. She was in the late stages of Alzheimer's disease, which had left her unable to care for herself and detached from reality.

A head nurse at the residence testified earlier that Cadotte admitted to suffocating his wife with a pillow.

His defence is drawing attention to Cadotte's state of mind at the time of her death.

Cadotte told the jury Lizotte's mother had also suffered from Alzheimer's, and Lizotte had told him she would rather die than be placed in long-term care.

"She'd seen what her mother went through — she didn't see her often — but to lose her dignity like that, she was too proud," he said.

Michel Cadotte, who is out on bail, makes his way to the courtroom for the start of the defence arguments at his trial for the second-degree murder of his wife, Jocelyne Lizotte, in 2017. (Sudha Krishnan/CBC)

Cadotte tried to care for her but was often overwhelmed. Desperate for a break, he sent her to a day centre three days a week. When she was home, Cadotte said he slept only a few hours a night.

He recalled she once soiled herself after locking herself out of the bathroom.

"She understood it wasn't normal," Cadotte said, wiping away tears. "It was very hard to see her like that the first time."

Finally, sleep-deprived and depressed, Cadotte told a doctor he'd had enough, and the doctor told him to seek long-term institutional care for Lizotte.

Cadotte said even once she had moved to the residence, he complained often about Lizotte's treatment as health professionals struggled to contain her aggressive behaviour, leaving her covered in bruises. He raised concerns about medications and the daily baths that agitated her.

Earlier, Cadotte described meeting Lizotte for the first time at the cafeteria of a paper company where they both worked. He said the meeting changed his life, and once they started dating she helped him stop using drugs.

"I always said this woman saved my life," Cadotte said. He described their relationship as a true union — "1+1."

"We had a beautiful relationship," he added. "It didn't change from the beginning until her last breath."