Federal Minister of Justice has ordered a new trial for retired Quebec Court of Appeal judge Jacques Delisle, 85, who was convicted of first degree murder in the death of his wife, Marie Nicole Rainville, in 2009.
“After careful consideration and identification of new information, I am satisfied that there is a reasonable basis for concluding that a miscarriage of justice likely occurred in Mr. Delisle’s case and that there should be a new trial, “said David Lametti in a Press release published Wednesday afternoon.
Lawyer James Lockyer has said he will argue for Delisle’s release from prison pending a new trial at a hearing in Quebec Superior Court on Friday.
“It gives Mr. Delisle a chance to live out his sunset years without being in jail,” Lockyer said. “He was eligible for parole if and when he reached the age of 102.”
Lockyer has said he hopes the Quebec Crown will refuse to proceed with the trial and simply drop the case.
“It’s now for Quebec justice [officials] to decide whether or not to sue, ”Lockyer said.
“They took nine years out of this man’s life. It’s a terrible miscarriage of justice, and I want him to live his remaining days without it weighing on his head.”
Insisted he’s innocent
Delisle turns 86 next month, Lockyer said, and is in shock at the news.
Her daughter, Élène Delisle, told Radio-Canada on Wednesday that the family was very happy.
“We were so excited when we heard it,” she said. “His spirit is strong. He always had hope. He is a symbol of resilience.”
Since his conviction in 2012, the retired judge has continued to insist on his innocence.
Delisle’s wife, 49, died from a gunshot to the head. At trial, forensic experts presented different testimony on whether she could have fired herself or whether she had been shot by another person.
Delisle’s appeal requests were dismissed, leaving the incarcerated man the last option to appeal directly to the Minister of Justice, which he did in 2015.
In a rare prison interview that year, Delisle said The fifth state that Rainville had died by suicide after telling him of his intentions. He said a stroke and a severe fall left her severely disabled and depressed.
“I’m telling the truth, really, it’s that easy,” Delisle said. The fifth domain Mark Kelley. “There are innocent people in the prisons. You have one in front of you.”
A joint Fifth StateThe TBEN investigation also revealed new expert ballistic analysis that supported Delisle’s version of events and, according to legal experts, raised a reasonable doubt.
Lockyer said he introduced the justice minister to 10 experts in forensic pathology, forensic neuropathology and firearms.
“Between them, they present a compelling case of suicide,” Lockyer said.
The mistake, Lockyer said, occurred during the autopsy, when the original neuropathologist failed to properly examine the bullet’s trajectory in the brain, which he said showed that only Rainville had held the gun.
Independent advice needed: lawyer
Lockyer said Minister Lametti was “very courageous” to order a new trial because the decision may not have been popular in Quebec, where Delisle’s trial has attracted enormous public attention and criticized the ‘respected former appellate judge, who was already retired following the death of his wife.
“It is the right decision and the fact that politically it may not be the best decision perhaps shows you why it is something that should not be in the hands of the minister,” said Lockyer.
Lockyer chaired a committee to examine the possibility of replacing the ministerial review with an independent commission to examine the candidacies. The ministry announced public consultations on the issue last week.
Lockyer noted that few such requests result in re-testing and that long delays affect the system. In this case, Delisle waited six years for the ministerial review.
Lockyer has been involved in the exoneration of over 20 people over the years and founded Innocence Canada, a law firm that handles wrongful conviction prosecutions. He called this business “easy” because. he said, the miscarriage of justice was obvious.
But convincing the minister’s office of this was “difficult at first,” Lockyer said.
“I think there was a feeling of, ‘How could we do this in the very first prosecution of a judge in the western world for murder? How could we have created a wrongful conviction? “But that’s what they did,” he said.
In 2012, the prosecution argued that Delisle had premeditated the murder in order to start a new life with his mistress and to get away from his wife, who was paralyzed on one side of her body due to the stroke. The details of their personal lives have attracted a lot of media attention.
But Delisle told the Fifth State that he was satisfied that the jury would believe the defense arguments which showed deficiencies in forensic science and find him not guilty.
Delisle said he tried to talk his wife out of taking her own life
In 2015, as part of The fifth state Documentary, Delisle laid out his account of his wife’s death, including details he had not shared with police.
Rainville, 71, had recently suffered a stroke that left half of her body paralyzed. The previously active elderly person then broke his hip and became depressed.
“I never saw, I never saw Nicole smile after her fall,” Delisle said The fifth state.
Then, said Delisle, his wife told him she wanted to die.
“‘I still love you, Nicole. I’m here to take care of you,” “Delisle told her. “I did my best to convince her not to go any further in her thinking, but she was convinced.”
He said she asked him to bring her his handgun, a gift from an old friend. At his request, he said, he confirmed it was loaded and left it on the table.
Delisle kept begging her not to die, he said. She asked him to leave her alone for an hour.
WATCH | 2015 Fifth Estate documentary on the Delisle affair:
He said he had gone out shopping, believing his wife would not use the gun. He got home within an hour to find her dead on the couch.
He told the Fifth State that he then lied to the police and did not tell them that he loaded the gun and left it beside her. He decided not to testify in his own defense.
“Now I realize it was a mistake, but it’s too late,” Delisle said at the time. “It wasn’t a smart decision to make. It was a sentimental decision I made. I thought about my family first.”
Lockyer said the Delisle case shows just how likely any Canadian is to be wrongly convicted.
“This could happen to me, to you and to them, to all of them, which is why we need an independent commission to look into these cases.”
If you are having suicidal thoughts or having a mental health crisis, help is available:
- Canadian Suicide Prevention Service: 1-833-456-4566 (phone) | 45645 (SMS, 4:00 p.m. to midnight ET only) | crisisservicescanada.ca
- In Quebec (French): Quebec Association for Suicide Prevention: 1-866-APPELLE (1-866-277-3553)
- Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868 (phone), live chat counseling at www.kidshelpphone.ca