The Canadian Press
QUEBEC–Ugo Fredette had reached a breaking point the day two people including his ex-wife were killed, and his actions and decisions were fuelled by that break, his lawyer told his jury trial yesterday.
Final arguments began in the trial of the Quebec man facing first-degree murder charges in the deaths of his ex-wife Veronique Barbe and Yvon Lacasse, a man whose car he stole after an encounter at a rest stop while on the lam.
Fredette has admitted to causing their deaths but has denied the intent necessary for conviction on the murder charges, with his lawyer asking the jury to opt for manslaughter convictions.
Defence lawyer Louis-Alexandre Martin was the first to address jurors at a courthouse north of Montreal, stressing the concept of reasonable doubt. “If you have a reasonable doubt, you have to side with Ugo Fredette,” Martin said.
The defence relied on Fredette’s testimony that on Sept. 14, 2017, Barbe had tried to push him down a staircase at their St-Eustache home, with Martin describing it as a “gesture of violence.” The accused had testified that Barbe came at him with a knife.
It came after a day of fighting and putdowns from Barbe and a threat that she would call police after he refused to leave their home.
Then, according to Fredette’s account, he stabbed his wife. The defence said Fredette snapped and only remembers “flashes” until the moment when he can picture her on the ground in a pool of blood.
“This image has branded him and haunted him,” Martin told jurors, adding that it coloured every action and decision that came afterwards.
It was still on his mind when he met Lacasse later in the day at a rest area as he was evading authorities with a six-year-old child.
Fredette said he attacked the 70-year-old man because he feared for the child’s safety after seeing Lacasse holding the child’s hands and trying to pull him into his vehicle.
Fredette’s version is in stark contrast to the case mounted by the Crown prosecutor, who argued Fredette killed Lacasse to steal his vehicle in an effort to avoid arrest.
According to the Crown, Fredette couldn’t accept the end of his relationship with Barbe, 41, so he allegedly stabbed her 17 times before fleeing with a child who was present at the scene.
Fredette scribbled notes as Martin made his final arguments. The lawyer also referred to the testimony of a therapist, Michel Corneillier who, in court, described the couple as “immature and impulsive.”
It isn’t a stretch that Barbe too was capable of being impulsive, Martin suggested, adding the tumultuous relationship coloured much of the facts of the case.
Prosecutor Steve Baribeau will lay out the Crown’s case on Friday.