Dog bites at the centre of Montreal murder trial

"She bit me."

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.

A dog bite is alleged to have touched off a series of events that resulted in the death of a 32-year-old woman in Pointe-aux-Trembles nearly two years ago.

Jérémie McLaughlin-Thibault is on trial at the Montreal courthouse, where he is charged with the second-degree murder of his neighbour, Vickie Belle-Isle. The victim was attacked in her own apartment, on June 28, 2019, and died the following day in a hospital.

In his opening remarks to the jury, prosecutor Simon Lapierre said one of Belle-Isle’s two roommates will testify at some point in the trial and is expected to say he surprised McLaughlin-Thibault while he was attacking with a roll of plastic bags.

“She bit me,” McLaughlin-Thibault is alleged to have exclaimed when the roommate walked in and saw Belle-Isle lying on the floor.

While Lapierre did not say who, or what, McLaughlin-Thibault was referring to, it was an apparent reference to the boxer owned by Belle-Isle’s other roommate. When he was arrested as a suspect in the attack, McLaughlin-Thibault was found to have bite marks on one of his wrists.

Lapierre said one of the 15 or so witnesses expected to testify during the trial is an expert on bite marks who will say they likely came from a dog “and definitely not a human being.”

“They were neighbours. Mrs. Belle-Isle and the accused, Mr. McLaughlin-Thibault, lived in the same apartment building (on St-Jean-Baptiste Blvd.) in Pointe-aux-Trembles,” Lapierre said.

Belle-Isle lived in her apartment on-and-off with her two roommates, Lapierre said. McLaughlin-Thibault was relatively new to the building and had just moved in to the apartment next to Belle-Isle’s weeks before she was killed.

Lapierre said the roommate who surprised McLaughlin will testify that he grabbed the roll of plastic bags from McLaughlin-Thibault’s hands and chased him from apartment. As he turned to help Belle-Isle he noticed the boxer was biting her leg. The roommate called 911 and Belle-Isle was taken to a hospital where she died the following day.

While summarizing the evidence, Lapierre said a pathologist will testify she died from trauma caused by injuries to her head.

The prosecutor also said that, minutes after Belle-Isle was attacked, McLaughlin-Thibault showed up at a nearby residence for the elderly. His shirt and one of his arms were stained with blood and he tried to gain entry by claiming he was looking for a friend who lived on a floor that didn’t exist.

A woman who interacted with McLaughlin-Thibault called 911 because he appeared to be injured and because of his odd behaviour. A Montreal police officer located him near the building and arrested McLaughlin-Thibault.

The officer is expected to testify that McLaughlin-Thibault was out of breath, one of his wrists was injured and he was wearing only one shoe.

A biologist will testify that the accused’s DNA was found on Belle-Isle’s hands and on the item he used to strike her, Lapierre said. Also, the victim’s DNA was recovered from McLaughlin’s blood-stained shirt.

McLaughlin-Thibault entered a not-guilty plea to the murder charge before Justice Daniel Royer began his opening instructions to the jury.

The trial will resume Wednesday afternoon.

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