Aurore!  The Mystery of the Martyred Child

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Le Devoir, April 15, 1920, p. 10




Quebec City, 15–(D.N.C.)–The trial of the Gagnon woman, which continued yesterday afternoon at the Assizes, behind closed doors, which did not dissuade students and lawyers from filling the courtroom, provided a forum for renewed legal debate as to whether the court should allow witnesses heard to divulge what the victim told them regarding the cause of the wounds on her body. Crown prosecutors objected to the testimony and Justice Pelletier will decide today whether or not to admit the evidence.

Yesterday afternoon, three witnesses were heard, Madame Chs Lemay, neighbour of the accused, Mademoiselle Marguerite Leboeuf, her niece, and Madame Hamel, her sister-in-law, sister of the accused Télesphore Gagnon.

Madame Lemay, who often saw the accused, declared that she repeatedly told her that it was not easy to discipline her husband's children, and that she once added that Télesphore Gagnon had beaten the victim with an axe handle.

Three days prior to the death of Aurore Gagnon, the witness went to see her. She found her lying on a pallet, in a very dirty room. Her hands were covered with wounds and gnarled, her feet and legs as well as her face were totally bruised, and she had other wounds above both eyes. Noting the state that the child was in, Madame Lemay told the accused that it was high time to summon the doctor, that the child was on the verge of death. The Gagnon woman told her that it was not necessary, that a call to the doctor to send medication would be enough. The accused also added not to mention that it was for Aurore

The witness recounted that the accused told her of the victim being unclean and indecent. She also told her that she hoped the little girl as well would die without anyone knowing about it. It was the witness who summoned the priest to administer the last rites to the child, who was by then unconscious.

The day the Gagnons were arrested, the witness returned to their home with Detective Couture and found blood stains on the wall and floor of the room where the victim slept.

When cross-examined, Madame Lemay stated that the accused, before marrying Gagnon, lived at his home. She was the cousin of Gagnon's first wife, who had been interned in the Beauport Asylum, where she died. She never saw the two accused strike the victim, but was told that it was their doing.

Mademoiselle Marguerite Leboeuf then recounted that when she spent a few days at the home of the accused, she saw her beat the victim for no apparent reason. Once she saw the accused burn the child while pretending to curl her hair, which was cut very short.

Madame Hamel, the third witness, stated that when she commented on the state of the victim to the accused, the accused replied that they were not about to spend yet another $50 on her, that for all she cared the child could die and she would never shed a tear over her. Much like the previous witnesses, she stated that the child was covered in marks from the blows she had received. The accused told her that she was a vile child and difficult to reprimand. The accused declared that she hated Gagnon's children, even before marrying him, and that she was determined to denigrate them.

The case continues today. It is expected to conclude by tomorrow night or Saturday.

Source: Correspondant Le Devoir, "A Québec. Témoignages accusateurs," Le Devoir (Montréal), April 15, 1920.

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