Quebec court orders new trial for Turcotte

A former Quebec doctor ordered to face a new trial in the fatal stabbings of his children is in custody again.

MONTREAL — A former Quebec doctor ordered to face a new trial in the fatal stabbings of his children is in custody again.

Police in Quebec say Guy Turcotte surrendered Wednesday just hours after Quebec’s top court ordered a new trial in the case.

The Crown said it intended to charge Turcotte, once again, with two counts of first-degree murder.

Police said Turcotte was to be arraigned today.

Turcotte is the former cardiologist who was charged after his children were repeatedly stabbed one night in February 2009.

He was found not criminally responsible at his 2011 murder trial, when a jury accepted his argument he could not recall the events and had experienced blackouts.

The case made Turcotte a household name in Quebec and the verdict provoked a torrent of outrage.

His case was one of several infamous court decisions that helped spur new federal legislation aimed at making it harder for those found not criminally responsible to gain their freedom.

Turcotte’s first trial heard that his young son and daughter were stabbed 46 times.

He was freed after 46 months of detention in a prison and, eventually, a mental institution.

“An arrest warrant was issued today for Guy Turcotte so that he would appear before the courts to answer two charges of premeditated murder,” Crown spokesman Jean-Pascal Boucher told reporters.

Boucher said only a Superior Court judge would be authorized to grant any request by Turcotte to be released pending his new trial.

He did not know when the case will be heard, but he insisted prosecutors would work to hold the trial as soon as possible.

The Crown welcomed the decision earlier in the day by Quebec’s Court of Appeal with “satisfaction,” Boucher said.

The court ruled that legal errors were committed in Turcotte’s original trial — including by the Superior Court justice who presided over it.

In the 2011 trial, the jury heard Turcotte drank washer fluid later in the evening of the killings in what he said was an attempt to end his own life. The Crown said a not-criminally-responsible verdict should be reserved only for cases of mental illness, not ones where a suicide attempt might have triggered an after-the-fact blackout.

The appeals court verdict sided with such critics.

“The burden of proof was on the accused to show that he was suffering from an incapacitating mental illness — distinct from the intoxication symptoms — and it was the jury’s job to decide,” said Wednesday’s ruling.

“But the judge did not remind jurors of that distinction.”

The appeals court conceded that the judge had a difficult role, and wasn’t helped by the fact that the Crown argued its points in a way that was “sometimes confused.”

That being said, according to the appeals court, “his instructions (to the jury) were deficient, which necessarily had a major impact on the verdict.”

The defence argued during the appeal process that the Crown had plenty of time to raise objections before the jury went into deliberations.