Quebec City sword attacker guilty of 1st-degree murder

The 26-year-old man who carried out the Quebec City Halloween sword attacks has been found guilty on two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of François Duchesne, 56, and Suzanne Clermont, 61, on Oct. 31, 2020.

The jury of 11 delivered its verdict at the Quebec City courthouse on Friday, after five days of deliberation.

Carl Girouard was also convicted of five counts of attempted murder for his attacks on five other people that night.

Girouard spotted a freshly shaved head and stood up when the jury delivered its verdict. He appeared stiff and stoic as he listened to the decision.

Lisa Mahmoud, one of Girouard’s surviving victims, was in the courtroom. She could be seen holding hands with a friend and Suzanne Clermont’s sister-in-law as they waited for the verdict.

Outside the courtroom Mahmoud, who survived being stabbed in the stomach by Girouard, told reporters she was relieved by the verdict.

“I have a hard time rejoicing in the misfortune of others but I am really happy the jury made the right decision,” Mahmoud said. “He will have a very bad life and that’s what he chose.”

Suzanne Clermont’s sister-in-law, Marie-Claude Veilleux, said the verdict will protect society from a “malevolent man.” But she said “it will not bring back our loved ones.”

Crown argued premeditation

The Crown argued that Girouard had thought about perpetrating the attacks for years and was conscious of what he was doing at the time of his crimes.

Two expert witnesses for the Crown testified that the defendant was a hypervigilant narcissist who felt the need to do something shocking to gain public recognition. 

Crown prosecutor François Godin, left, and Carl Girouard’s lawyer Pierre Gagnon, right, made their closing arguments at the Quebec City courthouse last week. (Dave St-Amant/CBC)

Defence team to appeal

Girouard’s lawyer Pierre Gagnon said his client was disappointed with the ruling and intends to appeal.

Girouard admitted to carrying out the attacks, but his defence team argued he could not be found criminally responsible because he was delusional and in psychosis at the time and could not distinguish right from wrong as a result.

During the trial, Girouard testified that he was facing an inner battle between two Carls, the “real” one and a “bad Carl” obsessed with a mission to kill. 

The Crown argued that Girouard could not have been delusional at the time, because he showed signs of hesitating before the attacks and expressed doubts about what he was doing after striking his first couple of victims.

Forensic psychiatrist Dr. Sylvain Faucher, who testified on behalf of the Crown, explained that a delusion is an irrefutable belief and that it is impossible to snap out of it so quickly without medication.

Forensic psychiatrist Sylvain Faucher, left, and neuropsychologist William Pothier, right, both testified on behalf of the Crown. (Radio-Canada)

Prosecutors showed evidence suggesting that Girouard had been planning the attack since he was in his late teens: driving twice to Quebec City’s historic district two years prior to the events, preparing his costume in advance, and removing some tattoos Girouard felt were “impure.”

The jury, composed of four men and seven women, heard that Girouard first told a social worker and a school counsellor about his mission at the age of 18.

Girouard now faces life imprisonment and will not be eligible for parole for at least 25 years. 

HIs trial, which started April 11, had to be delayed twice after some jurors tested positive for COVID-19.

Sentencing hearing scheduled for June

Girouard faces life imprisonment and will not be eligible for parole for at least 25 years. 

He will be back in court on June 10 for his sentencing hearing. Many victims intend to testify at that hearing, the prosecutor informed the judge. 

The Crown is waiting for the Supreme Court’s decision on the case of the Quebec City mosque shooter, whether life sentences can be ordered to be served consecutively, effectively eliminating any possibility of parole for decades.


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