COVID-19 delays Quebec City sword attack trial a second time

Another member of the jury tested positive for the virus last Thursday, and will only be done with the five-day isolation period on Wednesday.

Another jury member tested positive on Thursday

It's the second time that COVID-19 has interrupted the trial for Carl Girouard, 26, who is facing charges for the fatal Quebec City sword attacks on Halloween night 2020. (Illustration by Hbé)

The murder trial for a man accused of attacking people with a sword in Quebec City on Halloween night in 2020 has been delayed a second time due to COVID-19. 

Another member of the jury hearing the trial of Carl Girouard tested positive for the virus last Thursday, and will only be done with the five day isolation period on Wednesday. Without that person, the jury would only have 10 people, the minimum number allowed for the trial to continue.

The trial was already postponed once for the same reason. 

"It's the first time I have presided over a trial that is as interrupted as this," said Quebec Superior Court Justice Richard Grenier.

Grenier told the jury not to get discouraged with the delays, adding that the process should go fairly quickly once the defence starts its arguments.

Girouard, 26, is charged with two counts of first degree murder and five counts of attempted murder.

The defence for Carl Girouard is expected to bring in expert witnesses to testify about his mental state at the time of the attacks. (Service de police de la Ville de Québec)

While the accused admits to having carried out the attacks, the defence argues he can't be held criminally responsible because he had a mental disorder at the time.

In response to the defence's evidence, the Crown is expected to call a psychiatrist and a neuropsychologist to testify. 

A repeat scenario

Justice Grenier told the Quebec City courtroom that despite the interruptions, the court would take the time it needs to complete the trial.

The jury went from 12 to 11 members only a day and a half into the proceedings, because one juror was excused after testing positive for COVID-19. 

A day later, another member had also tested positive. Once a juror misses part of the evidence, they cannot come back.

To avoid falling to only 10 members and to allow for some wiggle room, the judge and lawyers on both sides agreed to postpone the trial over the Easter weekend.

All jurors are required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and their seats are separated by plexiglass barriers. They have to wear a mask when entering and leaving the courtroom, but they can remove it once they are seated.