NEWS

Former Quebec judge's murder trial begins

05/07/2012 10:30 EDT | Updated 07/07/2012 05:12 EDT

A former Quebec City judge charged after his wife was found dead in their home goes on trial today, in what is believed to be the first murder case in Canada involving a member of the judiciary.

Retired Court of Appeal justice Jacques Delisle was charged two years ago. The body of Nicole Rainville, Delisle’s wife of nearly 50 years, was found in their home in Nov. 2009.

Delisle stepped down from the bench six months prior to the discovery of his wife's body.

The trial, expected to last four weeks, started with jury selection on Monday.

About 200 people were called to the courthouse as part of the jury selection process, and eight men and four women were selected.

Death initially deemed a suicide

Rainville, 71, had suffered a stroke two years earlier that left her partially paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair. She died of a gunshot wound to the head. Initially, the death was deemed a suicide.

Seven months later, police arrested the former judge, and the then 75-year-old was charged with premeditated murder.

During a previous court appearance, Delisle's lawyer said his client was looking forward to proving his innocence.

In court documents, the lawyer of the accused wrote that Rainville had "expressed a desire to end her life" because it was "unbearable."

The arrest was shocking to Quebec’s legal community and forced the Crown to take exceptional measures to accommodate the unusual circumstances of the case and the accused.

In a rare move, before Delisle was arrested, evidence was presented before the court in an in-camera hearing known as a pre-inquiry.

Officials had to find a lead prosecutor who didn’t know Delisle.

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