After two days of deliberations, the jury finally decided: Éric Michaud was unanimously found guilty of aggravated assault on a 15 month old baby.
The verdict was delivered at 2:00 p.m. Friday at the Shawinigan courthouse. When he heard the word guilty, Éric Michaud, who had never spoken a word since the start of the trial, immediately threw a tantrum in the accused’s box. “I would never hurt a child, let alone put their hands in the fryer. So let’s see! Ayoye! You destroyed my life and my family on circumstantial evidence. Well done! It’s disgusting! ”He said.
Justice Etienne Parent wanted to bring him to order by warning him that he could be deported and brought back to the cells, but he himself decided to return, still under escort from correctional officers.
The judge then took care to thank the 12 jurors for their work over the past three weeks. After discussions with Crown counsel, Me Émilie Goulet and Me Benoît Larouche, and defense lawyers, Me Pénélope Provencher and Me Marie-Laurence Spain, it was agreed to postpone the oral argument until March 19, unless the coronavirus does not come to modify the activities of the courthouses.
At this time, the Crown has not wanted to rule on the sentence it will seek. Michaud is liable to a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison. Note that he has been detained on remand since his arrest in November 2017. In addition, he has a criminal record in matters of violence.
The jury therefore concluded that Eric Michaud had indeed immersed the hands of a 15 month old baby in the hot oil of a fryer which was used to prepare a supper on July 29, 2017 and thus rejected the thesis of the defense to the effect that the child had accidentally burned his hands with hot water from a bathtub.
Me Goulet obviously expressed satisfaction with the decision rendered by the jury. “It was not an easy case from a human point of view. It is still a child who is involved but at the level of the evidence, despite the fact that it is circumstantial, everything pointed in one and the same direction, “she said.
Asked about the remarks made by Eric Michaud in the box of the accused during the delivery of the verdict, she saw an aggressive reaction to a unanimous decision of 12 people who declared him guilty of the act.
In this case, several witnesses paraded before the jury, in particular experts. Me Goulet acknowledged that the scientific and medical evidence had made a difference. A plastic surgeon specializing in burns at Sainte-Justine Hospital had argued that “the burns suffered on the hands of the baby did not correspond to those caused by the flow of hot liquid.” She also noted that the child had second degree burns in his hands, some of which were very deep, similar to third degree. Rather, she had spoken of an “immersion pattern” in a limited amount of liquid given the absence of splash marks and the presence of clear dividing lines.
A maltreating pediatrician also argued that this was a classic case of immersion burns.
The defense, for its part, had argued that the prosecution’s thesis was medically impossible because of the degree of the burns suffered by the child and that the temperature of the hot water had been miscalculated. Upon leaving the courtroom, Me Provencher preferred not to make comments reserving them at the sentencing stage.
Note that Eric Michaud’s wife, Cynthia Dauphinais, who also testified at trial and admitted to lying to the police in this case, was not present in the courtroom on Friday to attend the verdict. She is charged with failing to provide the necessaries of life for a child, after-the-fact complicity in aggravated assault and obstructing justice. His file is due to return on March 23.