Turcotte to serve 17 years before parole eligibility
Stephanie Marin, The Canadian Press
Published Friday, January 15, 2016 4:17AM EST
Last Updated Friday, January 15, 2016 3:20PM EST
SAINT-JEROME, Que. -- A Quebec former doctor found guilty of stabbing his two children to death learned on Friday he will have to spend 17 years behind bars before being eligible for parole.
Guy Turcotte was found guilty of second-degree murder by a jury in December for the 2009 stabbing deaths of his kids, Olivier, 5, and Anne-Sophie, 3.
Quebec Superior Court Justice Andre Vincent ruled that Turcotte, 43, must serve at least 17 years before he can apply to be released.
The former cardiologist kept his head low as Vincent said his sentence reflects the "heinous and horrible crimes" that were committed.
Crown prosecutors contended during the 12-week trial that Turcotte killed his children as an act of vengeance against his then-estranged wife, Isabelle Gaston.
She was having an affair with one of Turcotte's friends and the Crown argued that he couldn't handle the notion of being replaced by another man and in reaction, murdered their children.
Defence lawyers said Turcotte was suicidal at the time and drank windshield washer fluid to kill himself. They argued that when he felt he was dying, he decided to take his children with him so they wouldn't have to discover his body.
The children were stabbed a total of 46 times.
Prosecutors had asked that Turcotte serve at least 20 years before being allowed to apply for parole while the defence had suggested between 10 and 15 years.
Vincent said Friday the Crown's suggestion was "exaggerated" and didn't reflect the character of an offender with no criminal record and who was not deemed a high risk to society. He also noted Turcotte demonstrated genuine remorse.
The judge, however, also noted that the defence's request of between 10 and 15 years wasn't enough because it didn't fully reflect the moral transgressions of the crime.
Vincent said the favourable reputation Turcotte enjoyed before the killings "is lost forever" and he will be known as a "child killer."
Gaston, Turcotte's ex-wife, was not present for the sentencing.
Crown prosecutor Rene Verret said he was pleased with Vincent's decision.
"He (Vincent) considered a lot of factors, he considered the jurisprudence," Verret said. "We have to respect his decision today."
Last December's verdict came at the end of a second trial ordered by the Quebec Court of Appeal in 2013.
Turcotte in 2011 had been found not criminally responsible for stabbing his children for mental health reasons.
The ex-doctor could get credit for 44 months served as he spent 27 months in custody awaiting his first trial and another 17 months at a Montreal psychiatric hospital following the not criminally responsible verdict.
Verret said the final decision will be made by the National Parole Board, but it wasn't something the judge needed to decide on Friday.
Turcotte's lawyers have appealed the second verdict and are seeking a third trial.
Defence lawyers left the courthouse without speaking to reporters.