Friday, February 15, 2019

Michel Cadotte trial. Murder or "Mercy Killing"

The following update was part of the webcast produced by the disability rights group, Toujours Vivant - Not Dead Yet. You can watch the full webcast here.

In Québec, the trial of Michel Cadotte in the homicide of his wife Jocelyne Lizotte two years ago is wrapping up. Mr. Cadotte is accused of second degree murder after he admitted to smothering his wife who had dementia; he claims he wanted to end her suffering.
Québec man uses "mercy killing" defense in wife's murder.
Psychologist Gilles Chamberland testified that Cadotte’s actions were not related to depression. Nor was he overwhelmed with caring for his wife, since she was in a long-term care facility. Mr. Cadotte had asked for euthanasia on his wife’s behalf but been refused.

Evidence presented at trial showed that Ms. Lizotte’s condition was no better or worse than it had been in some time, but that Mr. Cadotte had been drinking heavily over the weekend leading up to the homicide.

Mr. Cadotte claims he killed Ms. Lizotte “out of compassion,” but a report filed by Dr. Chamberland said Cadotte wanted “end her suffering,” to stop his own pain.

Intimate partner violence among elders is neither rare nor new. A 2007 study of murder-suicides from the Clinical Interventions in Aging journal found that life-ending violence is often explained away as “altruistic,” especially in cases where one party is ill. This distortion prevents “proper investigation into the specifics of the case, especially with regard to victim consent.” In one incident, a husband “claimed his wife had terminal cancer, but the autopsy found she had no evidence of any illness.”

These murders may be inspired by the perpetrator’s “strong need to control [the spouse’s] fate.” Some even thought death was preferable over sending their partners to a nursing home.
The study rightly concludes that “[domestic] violence events should never be viewed as romantic or altruistic as it is often erroneously reported in the news media.”

Disabled girls and women are also at a higher risk for abuse, including at the hands of their partners. In a 2017 submission to the United Nations, Women Enabled International explained that “women with disabilities worldwide experience domestic violence – including physical, sexual, emotional, psychological, and financial abuse – at twice the rate of other women.”

These women must also rely on the abuser “to meet personal needs; indeed, when the abuser is also a caregiver, it is frequently impossible for women with disabilities to get help.” Women may be unable to leave a dangerous living situation because they don’t have transportation or can’t find an accessible shelter. The longer women stay in abusive environments, the higher the risk that violence will escalate to homicide.

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