Quebec man found guilty of first-degree murder in slaying of ex-wife, stranger

ST-JEROME, Que. — A Quebec man was found guilty of first-degree murder Saturday in the stabbing death of his ex-wife and the fatal beating of an elderly motorist he carjacked while on the run from authorities.

Ugo Fredette was automatically sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole for 25 years after a jury returned two verdicts in the killings of Veronique Barbe, 41, and Yvon Lacasse, 71, on Sept. 14, 2017.

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But as Fredette, 44, was found guilty of committing two premeditated murders, the eligibility for parole could be consecutive, extending parole inadmissibility to 50 years.

The case will return before Quebec Superior Court Justice Myriam Lachance next week.

The Crown argued Fredette killed Barbe by stabbing her 17 times in their St-Eustache, Que., home because he couldn't accept the end of his relationship with her.

He fled the home with a six-year-old boy, travelling through a number of Quebec towns before stopping at a rest stop in Lachute, Que.

That's where he came across 71-year-old Lacasse.

The prosecution had argued he was killed so Fredette could switch from his employer's vehicle to one that allowed him to continue to flee authorities more discreetly.

Fredette was finally arrested on Sept. 15, 2017, in Ontario.

The accused had argued in favour of a manslaughter verdict in both cases — admitting to causing the deaths of both victims, but insisting that he'd reached his breaking point on the day both were killed and didn't intend to kill anyone — a defence rejected by jurors.

Jennifer Lacasse, daughter of Yvon Lacasse, said it was a relief and justice was served, but it would never bring back her father.

"The scenario that Mr. Fredette created, he's the only one that believes it," she told reporters outside the courtroom.

The prosecutor, Steve Baribeau, also echoed that opinion, calling Fredette's version of events "farfetched and implausible" and rejected wholly by jurors.

Twelve jurors — nine men and three women — had been sequestered since Wednesday after receiving final instructions and were into a third day of deliberations when they announced they'd reached unanimous verdicts.

Barbe's mother, Claudette Biard, told reporters she'd been waiting for this moment for two years.

"It's certain that for me, it won't bring back my daughter, but at least we can have some peace and serenity, but without ever forgetting," Biard said through a trembling voice.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 19, 2019.

— with files from Any Guillemette of Cogeco Nouvelles.

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