POLITICS

Jury deliberates on case of judge accused of killing invalid wife

06/11/2012 08:10 EDT | Updated 08/11/2012 05:12 EDT
QUEBEC - A murder trial involving a judge, believed to be the first case of its kind in Canadian history, is now in the hands of the jury.

Jurors are now weighing the fate of retired Quebec Court of Appeal justice Jacques Delisle, accused of killing his invalid wife so he could live with his mistress.

Deliberations start Tuesday morning now that Quebec Superior Court Justice Claude Gagnon has finished his instructions in the first-degree murder case.

Jurors must decide if the 77-year-old ex-judge intended to shoot his wife because she was an obstacle to his plans to live with his former secretary, with whom he was having an affair.

"Everyone who is charged with an offence is presumed innocent until the Crown has proved its case beyond a reasonable doubt," Gagnon told the jury on Monday as he summarized the month-long trial.

He pointed out to them that they are the masters of the facts and the burden of proof is on the Crown.

Delisle has said he found his wife Marie-Nicole Rainville dead when he returned home on Nov. 12, 2009. The 71-year-old had a gun by her side and a gunshot wound to the head.

The Crown alleges that Delisle shot her. Delisle insists that his wife, who was paralyzed on half her body following a stroke two years earlier, committed suicide within days of being discharged from hospital where she was treated for a broken hip that had further reduced her mobility.

Authorities had originally agreed that Rainville's death was a suicide. But a police investigation eventually led detectives to a different conclusion. Delisle was arrested and charged in June 2010.

Crown prosecutor Steve Magnan said in his closing arguments last week that Delisle killed his wife and made it look like a suicide so he could avoid a costly divorce.

He said Rainville, who was paralyzed on the right side from a stroke, had tried to protect herself from the shot and that's how she ended up with a black smudge of gunshot residue on her left hand.

Defence lawyer Jacques Larochelle argued Rainville got the smudge on her good hand because of the way she gripped the 22-calibre pistol in an agitated state as she shot herself.

Witnesses for both the Crown and the defence also testified that Rainville had expressed suicidal thoughts because she was depressed over her physical state following the stroke and broken hip.

The jury also heard from the former secretary who discussed her relationship with the former judge and how they planned to move in together.