Jacques Delisle, 77, is the first judge in Canadian history to stand trial for first-degree murder. He pleaded not guilty at a hearing in March 2011.
Police officers found Marie-Nicole Rainville, Delisle’s wife of almost 50 years, dead of a gunshot wound to the head on Nov. 12, 2009. It was initially reported that the 71-year-old had committed suicide after suffering a stroke in 2007 that paralyzed one side of her body and confined her to a wheelchair.
Seven months later, Delisle was arrested and charged with premeditated murder.
A court document filed by Delisle’s lawyer stated that Rainville’s life had become “unbearable” and she had “expressed a desire to end her life.”
They had two children and three grandchildren and were apparently set to go on a cruise to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary in the fall of 2010.
“I don’t think he would do anything which she would not want or to harm her,” one judge, who knew the couple well, told Canadian Lawyer at the time of his arrest.
Delisle was appointed to the Quebec Superior Court in 1983 and then sat on the Quebec Court of Appeal for 15 years. He stepped down from the bench six months before Rainville’s death.
The former judge, who was a hunter, was also charged with illegal possession of a firearm, which will be addressed in a separate trial.
Delisle’s arrest shocked Quebec’s legal community. Due to the sensitivity of the case, the province took extra precautions by presenting its evidence in an in camera hearing with a judge before the arrest warrant.
By the end of Monday’s proceedings, 12 jurors had been selected. In it’s opening arguments this morning, the Crown said ballistics tests proved there was no way Rainville could have shot herself.
The trial is expected to last four weeks.