MONTREAL — A Quebec man accused of suffocating his ailing wife had inquired about medically assisted death for her a year earlier but was informed she did not qualify because of her advanced Alzheimer’s diagnosis, a jury heard Tuesday.
Michel Cadotte, 57, has pleaded not guilty to one count of second-degree murder in the death of Jocelyne Lizotte, his wife of 19 years who was found dead in a Montreal long-term care facility in 2017.
“On that day, Michel Cadotte chose to take her life,” prosecutor Antonio Parapuf said as he delivered a summary of the Crown case.
The prosecution contends that at around noon on Feb. 20, 2017, as Lizotte was in her bed on the fourth floor of the facility, Cadotte put a pillow on her face. “By applying and maintaining pressure, he caused her death by suffocation,” Parapuf said.
Lizotte, 60, had suffered from Alzheimer’s for about a decade at the time of her death and had lived at Centre Emilie Gamelin since Jan. 24, 2014 — a little more than three years.
“Her health had deteriorated to a point where she could no longer take care of herself, could no longer communicate, and did not recognize her relatives,” Parapuf said. “Lizotte was in a state of great vulnerability.”
Meanwhile, Cadotte wasn’t handling Lizotte’s health problems very well, the prosecutor said. On the morning of the slaying, he was supposed to go to work with Lizotte’s brother, Sylvain. Instead he went to the centre, and when a nurse tried to enter the room at 12:45, Cadotte blocked the door.
Fifteen minutes later, he told an attendant to call 911 and that his wife was dead before going outside to smoke. He later told the head nurse he’d suffocated his wife, the jury heard.
In the moments after the crime, he allegedly contacted his brother-in-law Sylvain Lizotte by text message.
“Sorry brother-in-law, I know I’ve caused you hurt, but I cracked,” he wrote in a text read out by the prosecutor. He also posted messages to his Facebook page.
The jury heard that in February 2016, Cadotte had inquired about a medically assisted death for Lizotte. “In the presence of three members of the medical personnel, he was told she was not admissible,” Parapuf said. Lizotte did not qualify because her mental state did not allow her to consent to the procedure and because she was not considered to be at the end of her life.
A doctor who treated her after she was admitted to the facility and who pronounced her dead is among the witnesses scheduled to testify. “She will explain that given the advanced stage of Alzheimer’s, the objective was to keep her comfortable,” Parapuf said.
Four employees of the long-term care centre and several police officers are also expected to testify in support of the prosecution’s claim that Cadotte intended to kill Lizotte that day.
The first witness was a Montreal police crime scene technician, who described what she and a partner found inside the room. A pillow found inside the room was shown to the eight-man, four-woman jury and entered into evidence.
The trial is being presided over by Quebec Superior Court Justice Helene Di Salvo.