MacKay to review case of ex-judge convicted in wife's death
Andrea Janus, CTVNews.ca
Published Friday, March 20, 2015 10:31AM EDT
Last Updated Friday, March 20, 2015 6:38PM EDT
Federal Justice Minister Peter MacKay “will take the time to review” a request that he send the case of Jacques Delisle, an ex-judge convicted of murdering his ailing wife, back to trial.
Lawyer James Lockyer, of the Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted, is asking that MacKay order a new trial for Delisle, which would give the 79-year-old the opportunity to testify in his own defence.
Speaking in Montreal Friday, MacKay said his office will review Lockyer’s request. One option is to send the case back to a judge, he said, but the fact that Delisle sat on the bench does “limit the options somewhat.”
“But we have a process that will accommodate this type of request,” MacKay said. “I will take the time to review this because I think it is important,” he added. “Clearly this has been impactful in this community and around the country.”
He later told CTV’s Power Play that Delisle’s request is a “rare instance and certainly an unusual circumstance.” He also added that he will review all the information “cautiously.”
Delisle was convicted of first-degree murder in 2012, and is currently serving a life sentence in prison.
His wife, Nicole Rainville, was found dead in the couple’s Quebec City condominium in November 2009, months after Delisle retired from the province’s court of appeal. Rainville, 71, had suffered a gunshot wound to the head.
Delisle maintained that his wife took her own life because she was in poor health, after suffering a stroke in 2007 that left her partially paralyzed. She had also suffered a fractured hip in the months before she died.
Lockyer told a news conference Friday that the “Crown experts were wrong and the defence experts were right that Mrs. Rainville must have committed suicide.”
Delisle’s “failure to testify played a huge role in his wrongful conviction,” Lockyer said.
Three factors led to Delisle’s conviction, including the fact that, at first blush, the evidence at the scene did not support suicide and investigators began working on the theory that Rainville was murdered, Lockyer said.
Delisle’s status as a judge also hurt him at trial, he added. But it was Delisle’s last-minute decision not to testify in his own defence that sealed the conviction, he said.
Delisle was heavily influenced by requests from his children and children-in-law that he not testify and make potentially embarrassing details public, including that he provided his wife with the gun, Lockyer said.
The couple’s grown son, Jean Delisle, said Friday that he and his sister, Helene, feel “partly responsible” for the situation their father is in.
“His concern for the impact of his testimony on his family apparently weighed heavily in his decision making, and in that sense the influence we had on his decision is also a weight that we will be carrying forever,” Jean Delisle told reporters.
“We cannot accept that he would spend the rest of his life in jail for a crime that he did not commit.”
Lockyer has also asked the Centre for Forensic Science in Toronto to conduct a review of the case, with the consent of its Quebec counterpart. The director of the centre has told Lockyer he will make a decision in the coming weeks.
“We always say that wrongful convictions do not have a size or a shape to them,” Lockyer said. “It could happen to anyone. It could happen to you, to me, and in this case a judge of the court appeal.”