The courtroom was packed to the rafters with spectators, and so were the two overflow rooms connected. Everybody rose while Madame Justice Evelyn Rousseau climbed to her seat overlooking the accused and jury.
She hit the gavel with her hammer and thus marked the official start of Her Majesty the Queen v. Jean-François Toussignant, a case that would make legal history and not always for the right reasons.
I can’t say I cared about this trial very much anymore. For by that point I was dead.
“You hear about the witness who got killed in jail last night?” Montreal Star reporter Frank Boone asked Jason Martel under his breath, for he knew better than to get caught by the judge yakking away again…
“What?!?” Jason had no idea. He’d been monitoring social media trends, not the police scanner. He had no clue what Boone was talking about. There was a low murmur in the room as the accused got his papers in order and took time to look at each juror one after the other.
“Yeah, one of the guys accused of running the network of nurses was found dead in his cell at lights out last night. Hanged, but you know what they say about prison hangings…”
Jason had no idea what they said about prison hangings, and his face sure showed it, to Boone’s undisguised delight. He enjoyed showing the kids a thing or two.
“Yeah, and there’s another guy in jail who was the head of that network. The guards have stepped up their protective custody to make sure he also doesn’t get “suicided”, Boone actually made air quotes with his fingers, “but who knows…”
The hammer hit the gavel again. “Silence!”
The first day of the trial was spent with the prosecution presenting the evidence. There were no autopsy reports on Amanda and Marcel Toussignant since they had been incinerated before anyone ever got suspicious about their deaths, but in her testimony Rose Lieberman explained how she had uncovered Abdul Bédard-Lellouche’s network of assisted suicide providers – or, she added, euthanasia providers, a word that attracted a stern objection from Paul Smith. She had also found evidence of money transferring hands from Jeff Toussignant to Abdul. And what was more, she had a signed confession from Jeff that he had indeed paid for the deaths of his parents. That confession had been recorded on video and it was played in court for members of the jury as well as the public and reporters to see. It was, as these things go, short and to the point.
“Please say your name for the camera.”
“My name is Joseph Pierre Jean-François Toussignant.”
“Jean-François Toussignant, we have evidence that you hired Abdul Bédard-Lellouche to kill your parents, Amanda and Marcel Toussignant, by having a lethal dose of drugs administered to them without their knowledge. Is this true?”
“Yes,” he told the cop interviewing him, “I did hire Abdul to kill my parents.”
“You understand what you are saying, Jean? You just admitted to having ordered the deaths of your parents?”
“Yes, I understand this is a confession. Yes, I did order their deaths.”
It was unmistakable, and was therefore not mistaken by anyone.