While the lawyers for both parties spoke at length about the credibility of their respective psychiatrists during their pleadings, Judge Richard Grenier took the time to guide the jurors in his instructions so that they could properly assess these expert testimonies at heart of the Halloween killer trial debate.
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The last step before the jury is sequestered to decide on a verdict in the Carl Girouard case began Thursday morning. Wanting to make the members of the jury benefit from the good weather of the next few days, Judge Richard Grenier presented only part of his directives in order to conclude them on Monday, when the deliberations will have to begin.
The magistrate notably recalled that there was “no room for an acquittal” in this case since the accused admitted to having caused the death of François Duchesne, 56, and Suzanne Clermont, 61, in addition to injure five other people. The process the jury will have to go through to reach either a verdict of not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder or a verdict of murder – 1er degree 2and degree or manslaughter – has not yet been fully explained.
The quality of the testimonies of the three experts, two from the Crown and one from the defence, will certainly be at the heart of the jury’s debates and the judge gave them some tips for evaluating them. “Does the witness appear impartial or neutral? Does he seem complacent or biased and inclined to favor the party who made him appear, ”explained the judge.
A significant disagreement exists between the conclusions of the defense psychiatrist, the Dr Gilles Chamberland, who affirms that Carl Girouard suffered from schizophrenia and that he was in full psychotic delirium at the time of the tragedy, so that he could not distinguish good from evil. Conversely, the psychiatrist Sylvain Faucher presented by the Crown concludes rather that the malevolent fantasy of the accused was a carefully considered narcissistic quest against a society that did not recognize its difference.
Thus, the expert “affirms his conclusion in a hesitant or unequivocal way. Is his conclusion probable, simply probable or is it a matter of imagination, illustrated the judge, recalling that it is up to the jury to assess the testimonies. “It is rare for an expert to be able to pronounce with absolute certainty,” continued the judge.
The first part of the instructions ended with an error in the judge’s narration of the theory of cause provided to him by both parties. “I’m 74, I’m not very good at computers,” apologized Richard Grenier. The latter resumed his presentation of the two theories of cause from the beginning before giving leave to the jury until Monday.