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Ex-judge's trial told he had mistress when wife was killed

05/08/2012 12:55 EDT | Updated 07/08/2012 05:12 EDT

A retired Court of Appeal judge accused of murdering his wife of nearly 50 years was having an affair at the time of her death, a Quebec City court heard Tuesday.

Jacques Delisle was living a double life and seeing his former secretary at the time Marie-Nicole Rainville, 71, was found dead in the couple's Quebec City apartment in November 2009, the Crown prosecutor in the murder trial told the court.

Delisle's one-time mistress is expected to testify for the prosecution later in May.

Delisle has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder.

He is believed to be the first member of the judiciary to ever stand trial on such a serious charge in Canada.

Prosecution outlines its case

In the prosecution's outline of its case on Tuesday, the court heard that when Delisle retired from the bench in 2009, he told colleagues he planned to tend to his disabled wife.

Rainville had suffered a stroke in 2007, which left her partially paralyzed and in a wheelchair. She spent several of the last months of her life in a hospital after fracturing a hip.

911 called night of woman's death

The court heard Delisle called 911 the night of his wife's death and told the operator he came home and found her unresponsive with a revolver lying beside her. He said it was a suicide.

When the operator asked if Rainville had previously talked about taking her own life, Delisle said, "It's a long story."

Seven months later, police arrested the former judge.

The Crown said Tuesday that ballistics tests proved that the physically impaired Rainville could not have shot herself. Gunshot residue found on her left hand wouldn't have been there if she had been holding the revolver, the Crown contends.

The trial is expected to last four weeks, three of which will be taken up with the Crown's case.

Trial "a challenge for the judicial system"

Delisle's arrest stunned the legal community, prompting a lengthy search to find a judge and prosecutor who didn't know the former judge, in order to ensure an impartial trial.

"It's a challenge for the system. It's a challenge for the jurors. It's a challenge for a judge," said Delisle's friend and fellow retired judge, Bernard Grenier. "It's a judge presiding over the trial of another judge, but that's our system. Justice Delisle...is a person charged with an offence and not, first and foremost, a former judge."

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