Expert says man accused of killing ailing wife had disturbed state of mind

MONTREAL — A Montreal man accused of killing his ailing wife had a "disturbed" state of mind at the time of her death, a psychologist testified Thursday.

Michel Parisien, the final defence witness at the second-degree murder, told a jury that Michel Cadotte was distressed and caught in a difficult situation when he killed his Alzheimer's-stricken wife, Jocelyne Lizotte.

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"At the time of taking action, Mr. Cadotte was dedicated to a spouse who had changed his life," Parisien wrote in a report entered into evidence Thursday.

"He was caught between protecting his wife against any loss of care and submitting to the explicit demands (to which he and her relatives consented) of this wife (when she was still of sound mind) to opt out of any treatment and to benefit from assisted death when she became unfit to live."

Cadotte earlier told the jury that he suffocated Lizotte, 60, with a pillow because he wanted to end her suffering. The jury also heard that a year before Lizotte's death, Cadotte had sought a medically assisted death for his wife of 19 years. He was told she didn't qualify because she was not at the end of her life and could not consent.

Parisien said he met with Cadotte four times last spring and administered various tests, which demonstrated a state of distress that existed well before Feb. 20, 2017 — the day Lizotte was found dead in the long-term care centre where she was being treated for late-stage Alzheimer's disease.

"He was caught between two positions that were incompatible," Parisien testified. He noted Cadotte's usual ability to cope and reason as he cared for his wife deserted him the day she died.

Parisien said a severe depression diagnosis from 2013 suggests Cadotte's distress was long-standing. "At the time of the events, one can thus conclude that the state of mind of Mr. Cadotte became disturbed," Parisien said.

On Wednesday, a psychiatrist testified Cadotte was suffering from depression that affected his ability to make decisions, but he wasn't psychotic and knew right from wrong. Cadotte has acknowledged that he was aware of what he was doing and the consequences of his actions.

The defence stated during its opening statement to the jury last week that Cadotte was so depressed and sleep-deprived at the time that "he didn't have the freedom of choice" and that his state of mind does not support a conviction for murder.

The trial continues Monday with testimony from Gilles Chamberland, a psychiatrist called by the Crown.

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