Guy Turcotte, the ex-cardiologist who was found guilty last month of killing his two young children in 2009, has been ordered to serve 17 years of an automatic life sentence before being eligible for parole.
Turcotte showed no visible emotion as he stood handcuffed in the prisoner’s dock while Quebec Superior Court Justice André Vincent handed down his sentence in the packed silent courtroom. It took Vincent just over half an hour to read aloud his ruling.
During his retrial, Turcotte was convicted of second degree murder in the stabbing deaths of his 5-year-old son, Olivier and his 3-year-old daughter, Anne-Sophie. Turcotte was found not criminally responsible due to mental disorder at his first trial in 2011. That verdict was quashed by the Quebec Court of Appeal.
The judge rejected the sentencing recommendations of both the crown and the defence. The crown had asked for 20 years which Vincent said was “exaggerated” since Turcotte had no criminal record and was a low risk to reoffend and to public security. The defence recommended a sentence of not more than 15 years and closer to 10, which the judge deemed was not enough considering the aggravating factors and Turcotte’s moral guilt.
Vincent took into consideration the seriousness of the crimes, calling them “odious” and “horrible,” saying he “could not imagine a more atrocious crime.” The children were stabbed a total of 46 times.
Vincent also cited the “immeasurable pain” of Turcotte’s ex and the children’s mother, Isabelle Gaston, who was not present for the sentencing. She later explained in an interview with CJAD 800 News that she did not feel it was necessary to be there. Gaston said she felt it was enough to read her victim impact statement at the end of the trial last month, adding she wanted to move on with her life.
Gaston said she was “very happy” with the sentence, considering it a sort of closure despite the appeal of the conviction filed by Turcotte’s lawyers. Gaston said she is confident there will be no third trial.
In his sentencing ruling, Justice Vincent said “first and foremost, this was a story of infinite sadness, of a loving and caring father” who killed his children “in cold blood.” Vincent pointed out that Turcotte called his children “his things” and did not want the new boyfriend of his ex to be near them, so he decided to take their lives. Vincent said Turcotte’s reputation was “forever lost” and he would be forever known as “the killer of his children.”
Turcotte’s lawyers and his family left the courthouse without comment.
Crown prosecutor René Verret said he was satisfied with the sentence, saying they had to respect the judge’s ruling, calling it sound.
Verret said the parole board can credit the time Turcotte spent in preventive custody since his arrest in 2009 and the period spent at the Pinel Psychiatric Institute. The total of 44 months would mean Turcotte could ask for parole in about 13 years.