Accused was shaking after he attacked murder victim, witness says

Jérémie McLaughlin-Thibault, 47, is charged with second-degree murder in the death of Pointe-aux-Trembles resident Vickie Belle-Isle.

Sylvain Houde prepares to enter the courtroom to testify in the trial of Jeremie McLaughlin-Thibault in Montreal on Thursday May 13, 2021.

Jérémie McLaughlin-Thibault appeared to be in shock after he pummelled his neighbour to death, a witness said at the accused’s murder trial on Monday.

McLaughlin-Thibault, 47, is charged with second-degree murder in the death of Vickie Belle-Isle, a 32-year-old Pointe-aux-Trembles resident who was attacked in her apartment on June 28, 2019. She died the following day in a hospital.

Belle-Isle’s roommate, Sylvain Houde, the key witness in the trial, spent his third day on the witness stand at the Montreal courthouse recalling details of what happened during the attack while being cross-examined at length by defence lawyer Catherine Ranalli.

Houde testified that he walked into his apartment and saw McLaughlin-Thibault strike something behind his couch three times with a large roll of plastic bags. He said he realized his neighbour was attacking Belle-Isle when he approached him and saw the woman lying on the floor on her stomach.

He said McLaughlin-Thibault delivered a fourth blow, “square on her head,” before Houde grabbed the roll away from the attacker.

Houde repeated several times that the man who lived in the apartment next to his appeared to be “in shock” when the weapon was removed from his hands.

“He didn’t say a lot. ‘She bit me.’ That’s it,” Houde said. “His voice wasn’t normal. He was stressed in his voice.”

Ranalli focused many of her questions on what Houde recalled of what McLaughlin-Thibault said after having delivered the four blows.

Belle-Isle’s other roommate owned a dog at the time but, as Houde repeated several times on Monday, the boxer was male. He recalled being confused as to why McLaughlin-Thibault said “she” when, to him, it was clear he was referring to the dog, which was present in the living room. Houde said he was stunned when he noticed the boxer was biting Belle-Isle’s leg after the fourth blow.

When he was arrested, McLaughlin-Thibault was found to have bite marks on one of his wrists. In its opening statement to the jury last week, the Crown said an expert will testify the bite marks likely came from a dog and certainly not from a human being.

“I told him: ‘Get out! Get out!’,” Houde said. “He was shaking all the way to the patio door. He was shaking as he backed up.

“He was not in control of his motor functions as he backed up.”

McLaughlin-Thibault’s eye-glasses were found inside Belle-Isle’s apartment. The jury was shown a photo of the glasses, with the frame broken, last week.

Houde said he has no memory of how the glasses ended up on the floor of the apartment. He said he figured McLaughlin-Thibault wasn’t wearing them while he attacked Belle-Isle because the accused didn’t appear to notice him right away when he entered the apartment.

Ranalli will continue to cross examine Houde on Tuesday.

  1. Vickie Belle-Isle was beaten in her apartment in Pointe-aux-Trembles on June 28, 2019. She died the following day. Her alleged attacker, Jérémie McLaughlin-Thibault, is on trial and is charged with second-degree murder.

    Dog bites at the centre of Montreal murder trial

  2. Sylvain Houde prepares to enter the courtroom to testify in the trial of Jeremie McLaughlin-Thibault in Montreal, on Thursday, May 13, 2021.

    Witness to homicide said it took a while to process what was happening in his living room

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