Ex-Quebec judge Jacques Delisle, convicted of murder, denied bail

The former judge convicted of killing his wife in 2012 had sought release from prison as he awaits a ministerial review of his case, a rare proceeding that could lead to a retrial.

Former judge asked to be released while he waits for decision in rare ministerial review

Jacques Delisle is the only judge in Canada to have gone to prison for first-degree murder. He was convicted in 2012 of killing his wife, Nicole Rainville. Delisle says his wife took her own life. (CBC)

Jacques Delisle, the retired Quebec Court of Appeal judge convicted in 2012 for the 2009 killing of his wife, Nicole Rainville, will stay in prison as he waits to hear if his case will be reopened.

Delisle is the only judge in Canada to have gone to prison for first-degree murder.

He received an automatic life sentence.

Delisle has already exhausted all legal avenues after appealing his conviction to the Supreme Court, which refused to hear his case.

His last recourse is a direct appeal to the federal justice minister for a ministerial review, which was submitted in the spring of 2015.

If the review is successful, Delisle's case could be sent back to the Quebec Court of Appeal or a new trial could be set.

While waiting for the minister's decision, Delisle applied to be released from prison.

Wife died from gunshot

The decision on whether to release Delisle hinges on the testimony of forensic experts who dispute exactly how Rainville died.

Dr. André Bourgault, a pathologist who testified for the prosecution at Delisle's trial, said the shot that killed Rainville was fired at an angle consistent with someone standing above the disabled woman, holding a gun to the front of her head.

However, Dr. Michael Shkrum, an Ontario pathologist called to testify at Delisle's October bail hearing, told the court he believes the gun that killed Rainville was shot at a 90-degree angle, which supports the theory that Delisle's wife committed suicide. 

Under cross-examination, Shkrum did not exclude the possibility that someone other than Rainville herself may have fired the shot that killed her.

Since Delisle's conviction in 2012, he has continued to insist he is innocent.

In a decision on the bail application Wednesday, Quebec Superior Court Justice Benoît Moulin said that the expert testimony suggests different hypotheses, but none of it rules out the possibility that Rainville was the victim of a homicide.

He also said that expert testimony was not the sole deciding factor in finding Delisle guilty in the first place.

"The additional information submitted in the context of the present request … doesn't raise serious concerns about the accuracy of the verdict and raises even fewer concerns about its reliability," he wrote.