Michel Cadotte wasn’t depressed when he killed his Alzheimer’s-stricken wife and his will to alleviate his own suffering might have played a role in his decision, a psychiatrist told the court on Monday.
Psychiatrist Gilles Chamberland, who met with Cadotte and reviewed evidence from the trial before testifying, was called as a rebuttal witness for the Crown.
In a 31-page report prepared for the trial, Chamberland concluded Cadotte didn’t meet the criteria of someone who is suffering from major depression but was instead feeling the effects of increased alcohol consumption in the weeks and days leading to the killing.
He also cast doubt on Cadotte’s explanation that he killed his wife, Jocelyne Lizotte, 60, out of compassion because he didn’t want her to suffer anymore.
Chamberland explained there are two kinds of compassion: one that leads to someone wanting to end another person’s suffering, and one that pushes a person to want the same — but only to end the pain they’re feeling from witnessing the person suffer.
“Elements of the second type of compassion could have been present in (Cadotte)” Chamberland found.
Cadotte, 57, is charged with second-degree murder in Lizotte’s death. Lizotte had suffered from Alzheimer’s disease for 10 years, her condition deteriorating until the disease sapped her of the ability to walk, speak or eat solids. She could no longer remember loved ones and spent the majority of each day strapped to a chair or bed at her nursing home.
Cadotte has admitted to suffocating her with a pillow in February 2017 in an attempt to “end her suffering.”
A psychiatrist testifying on behalf of the defence last week told the court Cadotte’s decision-making process was affected by depression that day. He had grown depressed after years of loneliness and stress, Louis Morissette said, brought on by looking after Lizotte with little outside support from family.
Cadotte’s request for medical aid in dying for Lizotte had been refused the previous year. Lizotte, who witnessed her mother decline through Alzheimer’s disease, had told her sister she would rather die than end up in a long-term care centre herself.
Cadotte has told the court he grew angry and saddened when he arrived that morning and saw Lizotte’s head crumpled against her shoulder instead of being held up the way it needed to be by a specialized headrest.
But on Monday, Chamberland suggested Cadotte’s heavy drinking throughout the previous weekend also played a role, saying Cadotte was experiencing hangover symptoms that morning that could include anxiety, depression and irritability.
“We agree with (Cadotte) when he told us, on two occasions, that had he not drank alcohol during the previous weekend this probably wouldn’t have happened,” he wrote.
In trying to understand what happened that morning, Chamberland said, he also questioned how much Lizotte was actually suffering at that moment.
He said the evidence appears to show she had been in a worse state in the past and that nothing shows her condition was any worse that day than in the weeks or months leading to it.
“I have no information that (Lizotte) was suffering that much,” he said. “In the expertise I’ve read, it’s as if it was taken for granted that she was suffering, but once I finished evaluating (the case), it wasn’t that obvious.”
Lizotte’s sister, sitting in the courtroom on Monday, could be seen lowering and shaking her head while Chamberland called her suffering into question.
Chamberland is the trial’s last witness. He will be cross-examined by the defence on Wednesday.