Jury resumes Day 5 of deliberations Monday

By JOËLLE POULIOT, The Gazette, July 3

ST. JÉRÔME — The Guy Turcotte murder trial was one of the most closely followed in recent history in Quebec — both horrifying and captivating the public.

Such a tragic story about the violent deaths of two children was too much to bear for many, but it has also drawn flocks of people to the St. Jérôme courthouse daily since the trial began in April.

The jury is set to begin Day 5 of deliberations on Monday, deciding on the fate of the cardiologist charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of his children Olivier, 5, and Anne-Sophie, 3.

The trial hinges on Turcotte’s state of mind at the time of the February 2009 slayings. Was he trying to get revenge on his estranged wife, a fellow doctor, for cheating on him with a mutual friend? Or was he a sick man who had lost all reason?

In the weeks before the jury deliberations, the lineup started bright and early in the morning when the courthouse doors were still closed. People rushed to claim the limited seats available in the courtroom. One man even slept in his car in the parking lot overnight, on the eve of Turcotte taking the stand. Another got sent out of the courthouse by security guards for being too pushy in line.

So what is it that brings people, who for the most part are not connected to this case, to attend such a disturbing trial?

One man, a retired nurse, has been to the trial almost every day since it started 10 weeks ago.

He, like other people interviewed, asked not to be named, but said he has started attending court hearings regularly since he stopped working.

“I feel like it’s my duty as a citizen to do this. We are lucky in a democratic country like Canada to be allowed to attend trials like these. We should exercise that right,” he said.

“Also, after working in the health system for so long, I understand how doctors who are used to saving lives rarely take the time to help themselves.”

Another retired man went because he was curious after hearing so much about the case on the news. On the day Turcotte testified about murdering his children, he sobbed the entire time in the courtroom.

“After three weeks at the trial, I started to get used to it. I’m divorced too, you know,” he said.

“I just want to know what will happen. I know I can hear it on the news but I’d rather hear it in person.”

One woman said being at the trial made her feel better about her own life.

“I was abused as a child and had a very difficult time dealing with it. When I’m here, I realize that I could have reacted in ways much worse than I did and done horrible things. But I didn’t. And it’s so sad to see that some people did when there’s so much help out there,” she said.

A grandmother attended on many days, sometimes accompanied by her 17-year old grandchild.

“He wants to become a lawyer, so when he heard I was going, he asked to tag along. But he didn’t hear many gruesome details from the trial. It’s a good thing that he was still in school at the time,” she said.

A 15-year-old student from Polyvalente St. Jérôme sat in the courthouse reading a book, waiting patiently for the verdict to be rendered.

“I want to become either a lawyer or a psychiatrist,” she said proudly. “I’m here because I want to see what they do with such complicated cases. I’d like to be a psychiatrist to treat people who have done things like Turcotte has. It really helps people.”

One woman regretted that her young daughter had overheard about the murders on television one morning, as the TV set was turned on over breakfast.

“Mom, why did the dad do such a thing?” asked the concerned child.

The Turcotte trial was like a very real soap opera for members of the audience. The narrative of a Quebec family that seemed to have it all and crumbled horribly under the weight of a messy separation struck a chord for many.

Even if every person had their own reason to attend the trial, many of their questions were left unanswered. No one can really understand what happened in Turcotte’s mind on that deadly night.

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