05/23/2012 08:18 EDT | Updated 07/23/2012 05:12 EDT

Mistress of former Quebec judge on trial for wife's murder says she loved him

QUEBEC - The secretary of a retired Quebec judge says she was ready to move in with him just days before he was arrested for his wife's murder.

Johanne Plamondon had been the lover of former Quebec Court of Appeal justice Jacques Delisle for about two years before she told her husband she was leaving him in June 2010.

A couple of days after, Delisle was arrested for the first-degree murder of his handicapped wife, who he insists killed herself with a fatal bullet to the head on Nov. 12, 2009.

The death of Delisle's wife had originally been ruled as a suicide but the judge was charged after a further investigation by police.

Plamondon testified on Wednesday that Delisle told her after his wife was found dead that she had killed herself but also suggested they cool things off for a while because there would be a police investigation.

"He told me not to worry," she said.

Delisle's wife, Marie-Nicole Rainville, was found by Delisle with a gun by her side on a sofa in the couple's condo. She was paralyzed on her right side by a stroke two years earlier and had just undergone therapy for a hip fracture that summer.

The Crown has said it believes the 77-year-old Delisle killed Rainville so he could live with Plamondon.

Plamondon, 57, had started working for Delisle as a legal secretary in 1983, when he was named to Quebec Superior Court. She followed him when he was appointed to the Quebec Court of Appeal in 1992.

She considered Delisle a friend at first but their feelings evolved a few months before Rainville's stroke in April 2007.

"I loved him," Plamondon testified. "I thought he loved me too."

They saw each other mainly at work until Delisle retired in April 2009 although Plamondon took afternoons off to be with him.

Plamondon said their relationship continued after he left the bench.

"I never tried to look ahead," she said. "We let things go. I thought it would end."

In the meantime, Rainville's health continued to deteriorate until the summer of 2009 when she fractured her hip, which put her in the hospital until two weeks before her death.

It was during this period that Delisle suggested Plamondon move in with him. He said he had found a nursing home for his 71-year-old wife, who was about to be released from the hospital.

"Apparently, it didn't work out because I didn't hear him speak of it again," Plamondon said.

On the morning of Nov. 13, 2009, the day after Rainville died, Delisle picked Plamondon up in his car on her way to work without warning.

"After I sat in the car, I saw something was wrong," she said. "He was pale and upset."

In the following months, she said Delisle was more insistent that she make a decision about coming to live with him but Plamondon was suffering from depression at the time and couldn't make up her mind.

"It was a bad time," she said. "I was having problems in my private life in addition to what was going on elsewhere."

In mid-June, Plamondon told her husband that she was leaving him and that Delisle was ready to take her in.

Under cross-examination, Plamondon told the court that Delisle had told her he would respect her decision, whatever it was.