QUEBEC - A woman who authorities believe was murdered by her husband, a retired Quebec judge, had actually expressed suicidal thoughts long before her death, the woman's sister said Monday.
Former Quebec Court of Appeal justice Jacques Delisle, 77, is charged with the first-degree murder of his wife Marie-Nicole Rainville. It is believed to be the first case of its kind involving a Canadian judge.
Delisle has maintained his wife committed suicide. The Crown alleges that Delisle shot his wife.
Pauline Rainville testified Monday that her sister had expressed suicidal thoughts to her after a stroke two years before her death. Pauline Rainville said her sister later feared she was a burden on her family because of her physical limitations after breaking a hip.
Hospitalized for the hip fracture in the summer of 2009, Pauline Rainville said she didn't think her 71-year-old sister was ready to be discharged because she was very weak and thin after two months of physiotherapy.
The woman also testified she did not approve of the care provided by Delisle, saying she had not seen him and her sister together since the stroke in 2007. She also said she did not think her sister got enough to eat.
Pauline Rainville testified on Monday that her sister had expressed the suicidal thoughts to her in correspondence in the months following the stroke that left Marie-Nicole Rainville paralyzed on her right side.
Pauline Rainville said her sister asked her if she thought a fall from the sixth floor would kill her.
"Life is not worth the trouble of living," Marie-Nicole wrote in one email.
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.
Pauline Rainville said she had limited contact with her sister because she found Delisle cold and didn't feel at ease around him.
"I did not always feel ready to see my sister," she said. "I didn't like being around my brother-in-law."
Delisle said he found his wife dead when he returned home on Nov. 12, 2009. She had a gun by her side and a gunshot wound to the head.
Pauline Rainville said she had seen a gun in the couple's home about 40 years ago and thought it was kept in a nightstand, although after her sister was found dead she could not explain how her sibling could have gotten a hold of it.
The woman testified Monday that her sister was so ill a few days before her death that she thought she was almost dead.
"She was tired, she didn't look the same as usual," Pauline Rainville said. "For me, it was a person who was almost dead. She was very weak."
She said her sister actually wanted to go to a nursing home which had adapted facilities but that idea wasn't enthusiastically received in her entourage.
Marie-Nicole Rainville visited two such residences but they weren't able to take her because of her lack of mobility.