Depression clouded judgment of man accused of killing ailing wife: psychiatrist

MONTREAL — A man on trial for second-degree murder was suffering from depression that affected his ability to make decisions on the day he smothered his ailing wife with a pillow, a jury heard Wednesday.

But Michel Cadotte was not psychotic and knew right from wrong, a psychiatrist testifying as an expert witness for the defence said.

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"He is disturbed, but not enough to say that he has completely lost it," Louis Morissette said of Cadotte's state of mind at the time of his wife's death on Feb. 20, 2017.

Cadotte, 57, told the jury Monday that he suffocated his wife, Jocelyne Lizotte, because he wanted to end her suffering. Lizotte, 60, was found dead in the long-term care centre where she had been living with late-stage Alzheimer's disease.

Under cross-examination Tuesday, Cadotte acknowledged that he was aware of what he was doing and the consequences of his actions.

Morissette assessed Cadotte during meetings last summer and fall, and he submitted his report in November. "If his depressive symptoms were not present, he would not have made this decision," he testified. "It is an unusual decision for him, which does not reflect who he is as a person."

The psychiatrist later added that Cadotte is not impulsive by nature. He had been diagnosed with a major depression in 2013 and began taking anti-depressants, but he had not entirely recovered in 2017, Morissette said.

Moreover, he was not receiving the usual dose for his condition. Cadotte testified earlier that he took a lower dose of anti-depressants because of past cocaine use. The psychiatrist said he could not draw a direct link between Cadotte's medication and his actions. But if he had been getting a higher dose, he said, "he maybe would have been feeling better."

A year before the killing, Cadotte had sought a medically assisted death for Lizotte, who was unable to care for herself and had lost touch with reality. He was told she didn't qualify because she was not at the end of her life and could not consent. The couple had been married 19 years at the time of her death.

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