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Protesters across Quebec denounce verdict in Turcotte child-death case

Demonstrators gathered in cities across Quebec on Saturday to protest a jury's decision in the high-profile murder case of a man who stabbed his children to death.

Former cardiologist Guy Turcotte stabbed his two young children 46 times while they were lying in their beds, but was found not criminally responsible for his actions in a verdict delivered last month.

More than a hundred protesters gathered outside the Montreal courthouse, including Isabelle Gaston, Mr. Turcotte's ex-wife and the mother of the two children who were killed.

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Many protesters said they were upset with the verdict and the justice system. Ms. Gaston she was encouraged by the turnout.

"I'm always sad but today I feel less alone," she told reporters.

"When you're a victim you feel that the system doesn't listen to you, so today the presence of (all these people) gives me a lot of energy."

Ms. Gaston said she wants stricter guidelines for when a not-criminally-responsible verdict can be rendered.

She said it should up to a team of independent psychiatrists and a judge, rather than the jury, to evaluate the mental state of the person on trial.

"The time has come that we should rethink the way it's evaluated," she said.

"The (question of) criminal responsibility is something too big, too important, too complicated to be in the hands of people that don't have the knowledge of psychiatry."

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Many at the protest, including Ms. Gaston, wore T-shirts featuring a photo of her two children — Anne Sophie, 3, and Olivier, 5 — along with the words "Justice" and "Don't close your eyes, let's change things."

Others held up placards with slogans such as "Mental problems aren't a license to kill" and "Injustice in Quebec."

Several at the protest expressed dismay at the possibility that Mr. Turcotte could soon be free.

On Aug. 12, he is scheduled to go before a mental health tribunal which will determine whether he is fit to be released or if he should stay detained for another year.

Mr. Turcotte admitted to having caused the deaths in 2009 but denied criminal intent.

He said he only remembered flashes of what happened that evening and couldn't explain why he killed his children.

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The Crown has announced it's appealing the verdict, saying it believes the judge erred in law in his instructions to the jury. It has also asked the Quebec Court of Appeal to hear the case.

Protests were also planned Saturday for Quebec City and a dozen other cities across the province.

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