Sentencing arguments began Monday at the Saint-Jérôme courthouse for Ugo Fredette who was found guilty last October of first-degree murder in the stabbing death of his ex-wife and the fatal beating of an elderly man in order to steal his vehicle.
Fredette, 44, was arrested on Sept. 15, 2017 in Ontario after a lengthy run from police following the slayings of Veronique Barbe, his ex-wife, and Yvon Lacasse, a man he came across at a rest stop a day earlier.
Beacuse of physical distancing measures in place due to the coronavirus pandemic, the convicted murderer made his court appearance via video conference from a federal detention centre in Ste-Anne-des-Plaines, Que.
The judge, lawyers and witnesses were in one room, while family and media each observed the court proceedings from separate rooms.
The first witness to take the stand was Dr. Gilles Chamberland, a psychiatrist from Montreal’s Philippe-Pinel psychiatric institute.
Chamberland testified that Fredette has been diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder. He described him as someone who needs to be admired but lacks empathy, shows no responsibility and sees himself as a victim.
In terms of rehabilitation, Chamberland told judge Myriam Lachance that Fredette was not likely to change in the near future.
“I don’t see by which miracle he can change in the short term,” he said.
Chamberland wouldn’t pronounce Fredette a potential for rehabilitation in the medium-term or long-term, saying it was hard to predict.
He pointed to programs in prison, but said it would have to been seen whether Fredette takes advantage of them or not.
Psychiatrist Dr. Louis Morrissette, testified on behalf of the defense. He said Fredette doesn’t have narcissistic disorder, just traits of being self-centered.
Morrissette also believes that Fredette takes responsibility and explained his actions are related to issues of emotional dependency.
He also had contrary views to Chamberland on Fredette’s potential for reform.
“It is not because he has caused two deaths that it increases the risk of dangerousness” he said.
A first-degree murder conviction automatically carries a life sentence of 25 years with no chance of parole.
The Crown is asking for two consecutive life sentences or a minimum of 50 years in prison.
Claudette Biard, Barbe’s mother, is hopeful justice will be served.
“It would be a great relief,” she said of a 50-year sentence. “Because for me, 25 years is not enough for having destroyed my daughter’s life and that of Mr. Lacasse.”
She felt hopeful, however, after hearing Chamberland’s testimony.
“I’m very satisfied with his report,” she said. “It gives me hope that we’ll be able to move on.”
Sentencing arguments will continue in Saint-Jérôme on Tuesday.
— With files from Global’s Kwabena Oduro and The Canadian Press