By Marianne White, May 19, 2009 12:14 PM
QUEBEC The man charged in the death of Quebec political aide Nancy Michaud should be found not criminally responsible on account of having a mental disorder, the defence told the jury Tuesday at the first-degree murder trial of Francis Proulx.
Michaud was killed on the night of May 15, 2008 in her home in the small farming community of Riviere-Ouelle, 150 kilometres northeast of Quebec City.
Proulx who turned 30 during the trial was arrested and charged a few days after Michaud’s body was discovered in the basement of an abandoned house in the community.
Over the weekend the victim’s family held a private service to mark the one-year anniversary of her death.
In his closing arguments, Jean Desjardins told the jury of nine women and three men that what Proulx did is “horrible and despicable” and that Michaud’s husband and two sons will be forever scarred. But, Desjardins stressed, it is not the time to seek revenge but to do justice.
He said his client didn’t want to kill Michaud and would have never killed her if he hadn’t been taking the antidepressant Effexor. That, he said, coupled with the accused’s mental health problems Proulx is diagnosed with Tourette’s syndrome and obsessive compulsive disorder impaired his judgment.
“That combination unsettled his ability to make decisions,” Desjardins told the jury. “Francis Proulx said it himself he killed her because he wanted to get his handcuffs back. If that is not a total lack of judgment, I don’t know what is.”
Michaud was handcuffed before her death, and Proulx told the court he was trying to figure out a way to get his handcuffs back when all of a sudden, he decided to kill her.
Desjardins said three psychiatric experts called to testify by the defence backed this argument with evidence.
However, one of them, Dr. Louis Morissette, admitted that he lied under oath when he said he watched Proulx’s testimony and cross-examination to prepare his own testimony. The Crown pointed out that the transcript was not yet available before Morissette started to testify.
The defence lawyer said that “mistake” should not be a blow to Morissette’s credibility, but he didn’t bother to recall his arguments.
The Crown will present its closing arguments Tuesday afternoon. Then it will be up to the judge to give his address to the jurors before they start deliberating.
Canada’s top court denies Quebec killer new trial
CBC News Posted: Mar 14, 2013 11:57 AM ET Last Updated: Mar 14, 2013 2:15 PM ET
The Supreme Court of Canada refused to hear the appeal of convicted murderer Francis Proulx in a ruling announced on the court’s website early today.
In May of 2009, Proulx was convicted of first-degree murder in the death of Nancy Michaud, a mother of two and political aide to Quebec’s then natural resources minister.
Proulx broke into Michaud’s home in the Lower St. Lawrence area in 2008. He proceeded to shoot and kill Michaud after handcuffing her and sexually assaulting her.
25 years, no chance of parole
During his trial, Proulx confessed to killing Michaud, but his lawyers argued he should not be held criminally responsible for the crime, because he was incapable of understanding the consequences of his actions given his mental state, triggered by Effexor, an antidepressant medication he took for anxiety.
The Quebec Court of Appeal thought otherwise and rejected Proulx’s request for a new trial in 2012 — a ruling with which Canada’s top court agreed today.
Proulx is currently serving a life sentence, with no chance of parole for the first 25 years.