MONTREAL — The impact of Alzheimer's was front and centre at the opening of the trial Monday of a Quebec man charged with killing his wife, who was suffering from the disease.
As jury selection began in the case of Michel Cadotte, many prospective jurors said they could not be impartial given their own experiences caring for loved ones with the neurodegenerative disease.
Cadotte, 57, has pleaded not guilty to one count of second-degree murder in the Feb. 20, 2017 slaying of Jocelyne Lizotte. The 60-year-old woman was found dead at a long-term care facility in Montreal where she was in the later stages of Alzheimer's.
The case opened with Quebec Superior Court Justice Helene Di Salvo saying the trial is likely to last between six and seven weeks, concluding in early March. Prospective jurors were asked a series of questions relating to the media coverage of the case and whether they had heard about it.
Di Salvo then explained that the case would deal with medical aid in dying, Alzheimer's and so-called compassionate killing. She asked whether they had preconceived notions on the subject and, if so, whether they could set them aside and decide the case based solely on the evidence.
Before choosing jurors, the judge heard from those seeking exemptions. Alongside the usual requests for family, work or health reasons, several members of the jury pool said they couldn't serve because of their own experience dealing with someone with Alzheimer's.
"My mother suffered from Alzheimer's. It affected her until her death because she didn't have any quality of life," said one woman. "I'm not interested in sentencing someone else."
Another woman was granted an exemption for being a single parent but added that her grandmother had suffered from Alzheimer's. She called the charge against Cadotte "outrageous," saying that she might have done the same.
Jury selection was completed late Monday, and testimony is expected to begin Tuesday. The prosecution intends to have 18 witnesses appear, including two doctors.
Cadotte is represented by lawyers Nicolas Welt and Elfriede-Andree Duclervil while the Crown's case will be presented by Genevieve Langlois and Antonio Parapuf.
Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press