SAINT-JEROME, Que. - The defence lawyer for Ugo Fredette, a Quebec man convicted of two murders in 2017, told a courtroom Friday that his client will die in jail if sentenced to 50 years behind bars.
Fredette, 44, convicted of killing his wife as well as an elderly man at a rest stop, should have the chance to rehabilitate himself, defence lawyer Louis-Alexandre Martin said at his client's sentencing hearing at the Saint-Jerome courthouse.
The prosecution argued Thursday that Fredette should serve two life sentences for taking two lives. If he doesn't get 50 years in prison, Crown attorney Steve Baribeau argued, Fredette won't face the consequences of killing two people.
Martin, however, told the court that 25 years "is not a small sentence — it's extremely long in the life of a man."
Fredette was convicted last October of first-degree murder in the deaths of his ex-spouse Veronique Barbe, 41, and Yvon Lacasse, 71, whom he killed at a rest stop to steal his vehicle, on the same day in September 2017.
He had fled Barbe's home in Saint-Eustache, Que., with a six-year-old boy who was found unharmed when Fredette was arrested 24 hours later in Ontario. Fredette has appealed the verdict and is seeking a new trial.
Martin reminded the court that Fredette had already received a life sentence. What Superior Court Justice Myriam Lachance needs to decide, he said, is whether the convicted killed has to wait 25 years or 50 before being eligible for parole.
Even after 25 years behind bars, there is no guarantee the parole board will liberate him, Martin argued.
In 50 years, Martin said, Fredette will be 91 years old. "There are strong chances he'll be dead."
But Baribeau argued that Lacasse's life should mean something. If Fredette gets out of prison after 25 years, he said, it would mean the older victim's life had no value.
"If this case doesn't deserve consecutive sentences, then I don't know what case would deserve it," Baribeau said.
Fredette stabbed his ex-spouse 17 times before taking off with the six-year-old, triggering an Amber Alert. While fleeing police, Fredette murdered Lacasse, threw the man's body in a forest and stole his car.
"What kind of person exposes a six-year-old child to these atrocities?" Baribeau asked. Fredette had used the child as a shield when he was arrested by police in Ontario.
Martin is also asking the judge to strike down the section of the Criminal Code allowing people to receive consecutive life sentences for multiple murders.
Justice Lachance took the matter into deliberation and will rule at a later date.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 5, 2020.