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Jury begins deliberating fate of man charged with murdering Quebec student in 2000 – Montreal

Jury begins deliberating fate of man charged with murdering Quebec student in 2000 - Montreal
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After hearing weeks of evidence, jurors have begun deliberating in the trial of a Quebec man charged with the first-degree murder and sexual assault of a 19-year-old junior college student almost 24 years ago.

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Superior Court Justice François Huot finished delivering his instructions Tuesday in the trial of Marc-André Grenon, who is charged with murdering and assaulting Guylaine Potvin in her basement apartment in April 2000 in Jonquière, Que., now a part of Saguenay.

At the end of his instructions, the judge reminded the jury of their obligation to reach a decision based on “the evidence alone.”

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“If you honour your oath, as I am sure you will, you will then have faithfully fulfilled your duty as a jury,” he said. “We ask no more of you, but expect no less from you, ladies and gentlemen.”

During his lengthy instructions, Huot reminded the jury that the Crown and defence agree that Grenon broke into the apartment and killed Potvin with a belt found next to her body, but they presented different versions of events.

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The Crown is pushing for a first-degree murder conviction, arguing that Grenon killed Potvin during the course of a sexually motivated assault that began after he spotted her asleep in her bed.


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The defence has admitted that Grenon broke into Potvin’s apartment and killed her, but has argued that her death happened during a robbery attempt and that any sexual contact, if it occurred, happened after the victim died. Lawyer Karine Poliquin suggested the evidence points to second-degree murder.

Huot reminded the jury that a first-degree murder is a homicide that is planned and deliberate, adding that a murder is also considered first-degree if it took place in the same chain of events as a sexual assault.

 

Huot said that, contrary to what the defence argued, it was not necessary to prove the sexual assault took place before the death, but only that an assault or attempted assault occurred and that it was “not too distant” from the killing.

Meeting these two conditions justifies a conviction of first-degree murder “even if the victim dies before the sexual activity begins,” he said, adding that the defence’s claim to the contrary was based on an “erroneous” interpretation of the law.

First-degree and second-degree murder come with automatic life sentences, but with first-degree murder there is no possibility of parole for 25 years. With second-degree murder, parole is possible in as little as 10 years.

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Huot previously said the jury could choose to convict Grenon on the lesser charge of manslaughter if they did not feel the evidence met the bar for first- or second-degree murder, but he noted that not even the defence had argued for that verdict. He did not offer the possibility of acquittal in relation to the homicide.

Potvin’s body was discovered the morning of April 28, 2000, in Jonquière, about 215 kilometres north of Quebec City. A pathologist testified at trial that she died of strangulation, with injuries that included blunt trauma to her head and shoulder, a bite mark on her left breast and injuries to her genital area.

While male DNA was discovered on the victim’s body, on the belt and on an open box of condoms at the scene, there was no match in the police database and no witnesses to the crime.

Police honed in on the accused more than 22 years later, after a project by the province’s crime lab tracking Y chromosomes — which are passed down from father to son — first suggested the DNA might be connected to the last name Grenon.

He was arrested in October 2022 after DNA on two drinking straws he had discarded at a movie theatre were found to be a match with the DNA evidence from the crime scene. That match was confirmed when investigators obtained a warrant for a second DNA test after Grenon’s arrest, the jury heard.

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While 14 jurors heard the evidence, two were released following the judge’s instructions. The 12 remaining jurors will remain sequestered until a verdict is reached.

&copy 2024 The Canadian Press

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