QUEBEC – A retired judge accused of murdering his wife began to weep during his trial Friday, as a witness shared memories about her physical and emotional challenges.
The emotional scene came during the first-degree murder trial of retired Quebec Court of Appeal justice Jacques Delisle, believed to be the first case of its kind involving a Canadian judge.
The court heard that his wife, Marie-Nicole Rainville, was often tired and sad after her stroke and hip fracture.
But she had insisted she was not depressed and had not voiced suicidal thoughts, said the occupational therapist who treated her.
Marie-Josee Tremblay, who cared for Rainville in September and October 2009, said her elderly patient was “combative” despite her pain as she recovered from a hip fracture that summer.
Tremblay said she often found the 71-year-old sad and crying when she saw her on a daily basis.
“I felt the need to ask if she felt depressed and she said no,” Tremblay said. “I didn’t hear of suicidal thoughts when I was with her.”
Delisle said he found his wife dead when he returned home on Nov. 12, 2009. She had a gun by her side and a gunshot wound to the head.
The Crown alleges that Delisle shot his wife. Delisle insists that his wife, who was paralyzed on half her body following a stroke, committed suicide.
Authorities had originally agreed that Rainville’s death was a suicide, but a police investigation eventually led detectives to a different conclusion. Delisle was arrested and charged in June 2010.
Delisle dabbed tears from his eyes with a handkerchief on Friday as he listened to the therapist describe his wife’s difficulties.
Tremblay said Rainville was hesitant to return home because of the amount of care she needed. Tremblay said “reason” suggested to Rainville she should go into a private residence that had been adapted for her needs — but her “heart” persuaded her to go home.
The therapist suggested to her that she go home, although she said she would respect whatever decision she made.
“She was very ambivalent during her stay,” Tremblay noted, saying Rainville had even visited a private nursing home before deciding to return to her Quebec City condo.
“It was implied that Mr. Delisle would be her caregiver,” Tremblay said, adding he would help his wife in addition to taking on the household chores.
Under cross-examination, Tremblay said that Rainville did have problems concentrating.
During exchanges with the witness, defence lawyer Jacques Larochelle observed that after her stroke in 2007 Rainville had lost the ability to speak foreign languages, play bridge and do puzzles such as sudoku because of her brain damage.
Tremblay said Rainville was fit to return home although she remained susceptible to falls because of weakness in her right knee.