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Le Soleil, April 22, 1920, p. 1
THE GAGNON WOMAN WILL BE HANGED ON OCTOBER 1ST
THE JUDGE CRIES WHEN HE SENDS THE WOMAN TO THE GALLOWS
The jurors returned a verdict of "guilty," without a recommendation for clemency, barely five minutes after the end of [sic]
THE JUDGE'S DEVASTATING CHARGE
In his charge, the Honourable L.-P. Pelletier spoke for over three hours. He destroyed the argument that the accused was insane.
HE FAINTS AFTER THE SENTENCE
The death of little Aurore Gagnon, of Ste. Philomène de Fortierville, in the county of Lotbinière, will be avenged.
Her stepmother, Marie-Anne Houde, wife of Télesphore Gagnon, who was charged with the crime of having made the child die a slow death by inflicting the most barbaric treatment on her, and who has just been judged by her peers -- twelve petty jurors of the Criminal Assizes -- was found guilty of first-degree murder. Her plea of insanity was rejected without even a recommendation for clemency from the justice that will take its course.
SHE WILL MOUNT THE SCAFFOLD
This unnatural mother or, if you like, the cruel stepmother of Lotbinière, will mount the scaffold on the morning of next October 1st at 8 o'clock, to pay her debt to society.
This will be the final act in one of the most appalling and monstrous tragedies ever recorded in the history of our province, and in which the husband of the convicted offender is also involved. He in turn will have his trial in the coming days, also on the charge of murder.
Marie-Anne Houde's case, considered one of the most sensational ever seen, as well as the saddest as a result of the facts that were revealed, finished yesterday afternoon at 5 o'clock, after having inflamed public opinion for eight days.
THE JURY DELIBERATES 10 MINUTES
The verdict was returned at exactly 4:30, after the petty jurors had deliberated barely ten minutes. At 4:55, after a 15-minute recess, the trial judge, the Honourable Justice L.-P. Pelletier, whose devastating charge against the accused had lasted three long hours, pronounced the sentence of death, himself in a highly emotional state, while a veil of sadness seemed to descend upon the courtroom.
A VEIL OF SADNESS
The accused at the bar was crying heavily, supported by two prison guards. When the judge pronounced the last part of the sentence's formula:
"May God have pity on your soul," four people were required to transport her as far as the courtyard of the Courthouse, from where she
AT THE ASSIZES
(Continued from page 16[sic])
was then brought back to prison, where she will now await the date of her hanging.
THE EVIDENCE WAS OVERWHELMING
Her defence counsel, Maîtres J.-N. Francoeur, K. C., and Marc-Aurèle Lemieux, K. C., despite all the energy they expended and all the skill they demonstrated during the trial, were unable to save her from hanging. The evidence amassed against her -- irrefutable evidence of the facts -- was overwhelming. In his charge, the Honourable Justice Pelletier left no point unexplained, and then drew inferences which he left to the jury to assess and weigh in order to guide them in their verdict.
A DEVASTATING CHARGE
The older attorneys at the Courthouse don't remember having heard a more thorough and especially a more devastating charge against an accused in all their nevertheless long careers.
At certain moments during the charge, the judge himself could not hold back at times the indignation, and at other times the emotion that took hold of him during the statement of the torture inflicted on the little martyr. Several of the petty jurors, as well as several other people in the audience, were seen taking out their
THE PETTY JURORS CRY
handkerchiefs and wiping their eyes.
The scene was even more agonizing when, at 4:30, after having withdrawn, the petty jurors came back in the room, preceded by their guard, Monsieur Abraham Drolet, Courthouse guard, and by their foreman, Monsieur Théophile Huot.
The arrival of the petty jurors had been announced a moment before by the judge, who ascended the bench wearing his tricorn.
Addressing the crowd, the Honourable Justice Pelletier expressed himself thus:
"The jury is ready to return its verdict.
I ask all those who are in the room by special privilege, to be so kind as to make no display, whatever the decision rendered by the jurors may be."
Monsieur Charles Gendron, assistant clerk of the Assizes, then addressed the petty jurors and asked them the following question:
-"Messieurs the petty jurors, do you agree on your verdict?"
-"Yes," answered their foreman.
-What is your verdict?"
-"Guilty," answered Monsieur Huot, in a voice that suggested the emotion he was feeling.
-"Are you all of the same opinion?"
YOU HAVE DONE YOUR DUTY
The crowd kept the utmost silence, which was disturbed by the lone voice of the judge who, visibly moved, addressed the petty jurors, telling them:
"You can withdraw, Messieurs the jurors. You have done your duty and I agree entirely with your verdict."
THE VERDICT AND THE JUDGE'S CHARGE APPEALED
Then, after a second recess, the judge ascended the bench once again, donned his tricorn and was getting ready to pronounce the sentence when Maître Francoeur, one of the accused's defence counsel, asked the Honourable Justice Pelletier to be heard on questions of law in order to obtain permission to appeal the verdict and the charge to the petty jurors.
The chairman of the tribunal informed Maître Francoeur that he would set a date to hear his motion before the end of the term.
It was then 4:45. Maître Arthur Fitzpatrick, K. C., one of the crown prosecutors, along with Maître Art. Lachance, K. C., addressed the court and stated:
"I have the painful duty, your Lordship, of asking that the sentence of death be pronounced immediately."
After the accused was called to stand, the clerk of the court, Monsieur Alphonse Pouliot, asked her:
THE SENTENCE OF DEATH
"Do you have anything to say for sentence not to be pronounced against you now?"
The accused didn't have the strength to answer and it was her attorney, Maître Francoeur, who declared, "On behalf of the accused, I have nothing to say."
The Honourable Justice Pelletier, in a voice broken with sobs, then addressed the accused at the bar and pronounced the sentence in the following manner:
-"Marie-Anne Houde, you have heard the verdict of the petty jurors against you. I agree with this verdict and I have nothing to add.
The sentence that I will pronounce against you is that you be transported to the common gaol of this city, where you will be detained until the 1st day of October, 1920, when you will be hanged by the neck at 8 o'clock in the morning, until death ensues."
THE JUDGE CRIES
Then, after letting his head fall onto his desk, the Honourable Justice Pelletier sobbed and it took him two attempts to finish the formula: "May God have pity on your soul!"
The Honourable Justice Pelletier withdrew immediately into his chambers, where he required the assistance of two other people and it was thought for a moment that he would collapse, he was so racked by pain.
IT IS HIS LAST TERM
Today, we were informed that Justice Pelletier, who has taken on a considerable amount of extra work, and who had just pronounced his third death sentence since the term began, will not preside over other trials. He will probably no longer sit in the Court of Assizes either.
He will be replaced by the Honourable Justice Désy, who will begin hearing the other trials on the docket for hearing as of Friday. [...].
As stated above, the Gagnon woman's defence counsel aren't giving up the fight as entirely lost. After yesterday afternoon's hearing, Maîtres J.-N. Francoeur and Marc-Aurèle Lemieux told us that they will contest the legality of the judge's charge on several points, in appealing to the Appeal Court and even to the Supreme Court if necessary.
Yesterday afternoon's hearing will remain most unforgettable. The death penalty pronounced against the Gagnon woman is the third in two weeks, along with those of the two Romanians, Dabeka and Morari, convicted of the murder of the Pole Kostiniau in Kénogami last July -- something without precedent in the history of our Criminal Assizes.
Source: "La femme Gagnon sera pendue le 1er octobre," Le Soleil (Québec), April 22, 1920.
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