'It feels like a liberation': Families relieved after Ugo Fredette convicted of 1st-degree murder

The 44-year-old man was on trial for the murders of his former spouse, Véronique Barbe, 41, and 71-year-old Yvon Lacasse, a man he encountered at a highway rest stop after fleeing Barbe's home with a six-year-old boy.

Fredette found guilty for killing his ex, Véronique Barbe, and Yvon Lacasse

Relatives of Véronique Barbe and Yvon Lacasse hug after Ugo Fredette, 44, was found guilty of first-degree murder in their 2017 killings, at the Saint-Jérôme courthouse Saturday. (CBC)

The families of Véronique Barbe and Yvon Lacasse say they can finally begin to grieve.

Saturday just before noon, a jury at the Saint-Jérôme courthouse found Ugo Fredette, 44, guilty on two counts of first-degree murder in their deaths. 

"Now, it's time to turn the page. It won't be easy," Barbe's older brother, Daniel, told reporters outside the courtroom, trailing off in tears. "She was so marvelous."

Barbe said members of his family attended Lacasse's funeral and the two families have since become close, finding ways to support each other after a nearly unfathomable series of events.

Fredette was charged in connection with the September 2017 killings of 41-year-old Barbe, who was his former spouse, and 71-year-old Lacasse, a man he encountered at a highway rest stop after fleeing Barbe's home with a six-year-old boy. 

There were sighs of relief as the jury of three women and nine men delivered the verdicts Saturday, on Day 3 of deliberations. One woman clapped. The families sat together, holding hands and later exchanging tearful hugs. 

Fredette appeared solemn, his brow slightly furrowed.

The jury had to decide whether Fredette had the intention of killing Barbe and Lacasse. 

Fredette's lawyer, Louis-Alexandre Martin, said Fredette had been provoked. The accused testified that it was Barbe who attacked him first and that Lacasse had confronted him aggressively. 

Daniel Barbe, Véronique Barbe's older brother, said he doesn't wish any harm to Ugo Fredette. (CBC)

Fredette's defence was 'far-fetched,' says prosecutor

"It was so far-fetched," Crown prosecutor Steve Baribeau said Saturday. "The quality of the evidence was impressive in this case."

He said the verdicts showed the jury had rejected Fredette's version of events, and accepted the evidence prosecutors put forth in the trial: that Fredette harassed and terrorized his ex-partner for weeks and then stabbed her 17 times. 

Fredette fled with a boy who was inside the home, triggering what became the longest Amber Alert in Quebec history. He later killed Lacasse at a rest stop in Lachute, before stealing his car.

Ugo Fredette appeared solemn as the jury representative read the verdicts of first-degree murder in the courtroom. (Radio-Canada)

The boy was with Fredette when the man was arrested nearly 24 hours later in Dacre, Ont., about 130 kilometres west of Ottawa. Lacasse's body was found several days later in a wooded area in Harrington, Que., about 70 kilometres from the rest stop.

Lacasse's daughter, Jennifer, said she had a strong reaction to the way her father was portrayed by the defence in court.

"The movie that Mr. Fredette created in his head, [the jury] did not believe it, just as we did not," she told reporters, adding the verdicts are "good for our hearts."

'I've been waiting for this for 2 years'

Véronique Barbe's mother, Claudette, said she was happy and relieved by the verdicts delivered Saturday. (Radio-Canada)

Barbe's mother Claudette said she was grateful for the work by prosecutors and investigators from Quebec and Ontario provincial police. 

"We're so happy. I've been waiting for this for two years. It feels like a liberation," she said. "It won't give me back my daughter, but we can now have a bit more peace and serenity inside of us. We'll be able to have a new beginning."

Wednesday, family members are expected back in court to deliver victim impact statements. 

Fredette faces a life sentence. Superior Court Justice Myriam Lachance will decide at a later date whether his parole eligibility periods (25 year each) are to be served together or consecutively, meaning he could be eligible for parole in 25 or 50 years at a minimum.

With files from Elias Abboud, Isaac Olson and Radio-Canada's Geneviève Garon