Not Criminally Responsible Verdict: Guy Turcotte Changed the Game

Not Criminally Responsible Verdict: Guy Turcotte Changed the Game< /p> UPDATE DAY

Since the “collective commotion” caused by the first murder trial of ex-cardiologist Guy Turcotte, only one jury has sent a killer to the psychiatric hospital rather than the penitentiary.

The stakeholders interviewed for this survey are unanimous: this is a turning point in public opinion regarding the verdict of not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder (NCRTM).

The Laurentian doctor was recognized NCRTM in July 2011 for the murders of his three and five year old children. He drank windshield washer after the crime, in an attempt to kill himself.

“It's not at all representative of our patients or the homicide records we have [at the Philippe Pinel Institute]. It's unfortunate, because we've talked about it a lot, but the people we treat don't have that profile at all,” notes criminologist Sandrine Martin.

Trust shaken

However, this case struck the collective imagination to the point of shaking public confidence in justice and toughening the law to add the label of high-risk defendant, in 2014.

“There is the whole problem of the credibility of the judicial process. […] We have the impression that it is like a scam. If you have a good defense, you're going to have a candy, in the end, and in his case, it's a bit true, ”says law professor Emmanuelle Bernheim.

The Court of Appeal, however, ordered a new trial, at the end of which Turcotte was sentenced to life in prison without release for 17 years.

Never again

“It was a collective commotion after the first verdict, people were traumatized. […] It is as if they had said to themselves: never again [we will not let this happen]”, explains criminal lawyer Véronique Robert.

Only one killer was recognized by NCRTM a jury since, according to our research. And the circumstances were special: he was hospitalized in the psychiatric wing when he strangled two other patients.

This verdict was also rejected in several other high-profile cases such as Luka Rocco Magnotta, Richard Henry Bain and, more recently in Quebec, Carl Girouard.

Of course, dozens of murderers have been declared NCRTM since the Turcotte affair, but always following an agreement between the Crown and the defence.

Are we witnessing a hardening of mentalities? “Perhaps, I wouldn't be surprised,” replies psychology professor Suzanne Léveillée.