Former Quebec judge, Delisle pleads guilty to manslaughter in his wife’s death

Jacques Delisle. Image credit: @AbigailMCND

Jacques Delisle, a former judge on the Quebec Court of Appeal, pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the death of his wife after nearly 15 years of legal battles ending Delisle’s plea.

Believed to be the first Canadian judge to ever stand trial for murder, Delisle was convicted in 2012 of fatally shooting his wife, 71-year-old Marie Nicole Rainville, who died in 2009.

When Delisle appeared in a Quebec City court room on Thursday wearing a mask, Delisle’s lawyer, Jacques Larochelle, reportedly said the crown maintained Delisle’s taking an active part in the death of his wife.

Being partially paralyzed due to a stroke, Rainville died of a gunshot to the head. 

Delisle’s first trial was based on detailed forensic analysis over if he had killed her or she had taken her own life.

The verdicy being largely based on the testimony of a pathologist, who had said that theory of suicide was not supported by the bullet’s trajectory through the victim’s brain.

Delisle was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years.

After spending nearly a decade in prison, he was then given another trial by the federal justice minister, David Lametti, under the conviction review provisions of the Criminal Code, saying that a “miscarriage of justice likely occurred” in part because one of the Crown’s experts made serious mistakes in the original pathology report that led to Delisle’s conviction.

“Following a thorough review, and the identification of new information, I am satisfied that there is a reasonable basis to conclude that a miscarriage of justice likely occurred in Mr. Delisle’s case and that there should be a new trial,” David Lametti had said in a press release issued on April 7, 2021.

Now 88, Delisle had maintained his innocence and said he gave her the gun, but he denied shooting her. 

After Delisle’s second trial was also delayed, he was first given a stay of proceedings in 2022 by a Quebec Superior Court judge, but then ordered to go ahead with the trial when the Quebec Court of Appeal overturned that decision. 

He has been walking free awaiting a decision on the second trial.

According to Delisle’s original version his wife was depressed and took her own life using a gun found next to her body.

Thursday, Crown prosecutor Jacques Godin insisted there was still a belief that Delisle was an active participant in his wife’s death.

Larochelle reiterated Rainville being unable to care for herself, had expressed a desire to die and had convinced Delisle to leave his loaded gun next to her.

But defence lawyer Jacques argued that in spite of Delisle’s negligece in leaving a loaded weapon next to a suicidal person, the time served is more than sufficient.

In response to Delisle’s guilty plea, the Crown has suggested a sentence of eight years and 311 days minus eight years and 310 days, considering his age and the time already spent in prison.

That would leave one day of detention.

Agreeing Thursday morning that the Crown’s suggestion was considered justice for the crime committed, the judge said that Delisle will serve one more day to complete his sentence.

He has been asked to provide a DNA sample to Quebec City police (SPVQ) and is banned from owning firearms.