Michel Cadotte, accused of murder in the 2017 death of his ailing wife in what has been described as a mercy killing, heads to the courtroom to hear final arguments Tuesday, February 19, 2019 in Montreal.
Ryan Remiorz / THE CANADIAN PRESS
A jury has found Michel Cadotte guilty of manslaughter for the 2017 “compassion killing” of his Alzheimer’s-stricken wife.Cadotte, 57, was charged with second-degree murder for suffocating his wife of 19 years, Jocelyne Lizotte, after a decade-long battle with the disease. Tears rolled down his face as he walked from the courtroom.In a brief statement to reporters, Cadotte thanked the jury and said he was relieved by the verdict.When asked how he was feeling, he mumbled, “I feel better. I’ll mourn now,” before declining to speak further.A request for medical aid in dying Cadotte made on Lizotte’s behalf the previous year had been denied. Cadotte has maintained he killed Lizotte because he couldn’t stand seeing her suffer anymore.The jury had been asked to consider two verdicts: guilty of second-degree murder or guilty of manslaughter. An acquittal was not a possible outcome.After a month-long trial, the four women and eight men of the jury had been deliberating since Thursday.There is no minimum sentence for manslaughter, except in cases when a firearm is used and the minimum is four years in prison.In thanking the jury Saturday, Quebec Superior Court Justice Helene Di Salvo acknowledged the case was “one of the most emotional” she’d heard.Outside the courtroom, Cadotte’s lawyers said that while they were pleased with the verdict, there was no satisfaction to be found in such a tragic story.Defence lawyer Elfriede Duclervil described Lizotte’s illness as a “tsunami” that rocked the family and caused “a long and slow work of demolition” on Cadotte.“That’s what we told the jury, and they understood,” she said Saturday. She declined to say what sentence the defence will suggest when sentencing hearings begin March 5.In closing arguments, the defence had argued the killing was an impulsive act and maintained the effects of depression, exhaustion and stress clouded Cadotte’s mind and rendered him incapable of forming the intent needed to be found guilty of murder.The Crown has argued Cadotte was in control of his decisions and acted with intent, unjustly taking Lizotte’s fate into his own hands when she was at her most vulnerable.In her instructions to the jury, Salvo had told them the main question they needed to consider is whether Cadotte, in the state of mind he was in, had formed the intent to kill Lizotte when he suffocated her.“You will need to judge the act Mr. Cadotte committed,” she told jurors, “but also his state of mind at that precise moment.”Related