Aurore!  The Mystery of the Martyred Child
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City of Québec.

(Preliminary Inquiry)

Examination of LAURÉAT COUTURE, of the City of Quebec, constable of the provincial police, --------------

taken under oath on this twenty-fourth--------- day of February,---------- in the year of Our Lord nineteen hundred and twenty, ------------------in the City of Quebec in the aforementioned district, before the undersigned, Judge of the Sessions of the Peace, in and for the City of Quebec, in the presence of the accused Télesphore Gagnon.

Examined by Maître Arthur Fitzpatrick, Crown Prosecutor: —

Q. Monsieur Couture, you are a constable in the employment of the provincial police?

A. Yes, Monsieur.

Q. Would you tell us if you received instructions to go to Ste. Philomène de Fortierville to investigate this case?

A. Yes, Monsieur.

Q. Did you go to Ste. Philomène?

A. Yes, Monsieur.

Q. With whom did you go?

A. With Coroner Jolicoeur and Dr. Marois.

Q. Would you tell us, after having gone to Ste. Philomène de Fortierville with Coroner Jolicoeur and Dr. Marois, if you conducted any kind of search at the home of the accused?

A. That is, when I arrived in Ste. Philomène, Dr. Marois instructed me to have the body transported to the sacristy and to bring some witnesses, the day after the accused were arrested.

Q. You arrested them yourself?

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A. Yes, Monsieur. I arrested them on their way back from the deceased's funeral. I went to the accused's home to conduct a search; I went up to the bedroom of the deceased and found it very filthy, to begin with.

Q. Who told you it was the bedroom of the deceased?

A. The little boy, the accused's son, and Madame Lemay. I also found a switch, already produced as Exhibit P-3, in the deceased's bedroom. In the corner of the room, I found a bed....

Q. When you say a bed, do you mean what you are showing us is that what you call a bed?

A. Yes, Monsieur; it's what I'm showing you. It was on the floor in a corner, and this served as a pillow. I produce the whole, wrapped and tied up, as Exhibit P-4.

Q. Is there any blood on this straw mattress?

A. Yes, Monsieur.

Q. Is there any blood on the pillow?

A. No, Monsieur.

Q. What other belongings did you find in the room?

A. That's all I found in the room. Here's a mattress cover with blood on it, which I produce as Exhibit P-5. And her night-gown, which I produce as Exhibit P-6.

Q. Are there blood stains on it?

A. Yes, Monsieur.

Q. Now, the night-gown that you're producing, and the mattress cover, were they found in the deceased's bedroom?

A. No, Monsieur.

Q. Where were they found?

A. It was Madame Lemay, who prepared the child for burial, who took those things away and showed them to me. They were in a shed, wrapped up together. The rest was found upstairs.

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Q. Now, did you proceed to a careful examination of the room in which the deceased slept?

A. Yes, Monsieur.

Q. Would you tell us in what condition you found that particular room?

A. To begin with, I found it filthy; then, I found a lot of blood on the floor and on the wall.

Q. Did you find anything else in the room, Monsieur Couture, other than the belongings that are produced before the Court?

A. No, Monsieur.

Q. Now Monsieur Couture, would you look at Exhibit P-1, which appears to be an axe handle, and tell me where you found this axe handle and under what circumstances?

A. I found this axe handle; it's the deceased's little brother.…

Q. What's his name?

A. Gérard, who told me his father had beaten her...

Objection to hearsay evidence.

Q. What did you ask the little brother?

A. I asked him if he knew anything that pertained to this case, and he...

Objection to this evidence.

Evidence admitted for the time being.

Q. I want to know how you found this axe handle.

A. The little boy went to get it in the shed and gave it to me.

Q. Now, do you recognise the axe handle you now hold in your hands as being that which was given to you by the accused's little boy?

A. Yes, Monsieur.

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Q. Can you say who made the three notches on this axe handle?

A. I can't say.

Q. Did you make them?

A. No; it was like that when I got it.

Q. Can you tell me who cut the axe handle like this?

A. I don't know.

Q. Is it freshly cut?

A. Yes, Monsieur. It looks freshly cut to me; it's easy to see.

Q. Was it in this condition when it was given to you?

A. Yes, Monsieur.

Q. Now, I'm showing you a whip, Exhibit P-2, or a whip handle. Would you tell me if you found this whip handle yourself, or if someone gave it to you?

A. Someone gave it to me.

Q. Who?

A. The little boy, Gérard.

Q. Whose little boy?

A. The accused's.

Q. Did he give it to you at the same time as the axe handle?

A. Yes, Monsieur.

Q. Where did he get it from?

A. He found it in the stable.

Q. You are the one who arrested the two accused and who brought them down here to Quebec City?

A. Yes, Monsieur.

Q. Now Monsieur Couture, you also received instructions, isn't it so, to talk to the witnesses who could shed some light on the truth in this case?

A. Yes, Monsieur.

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Cross-examined by the Honorable J. N. Francouer, K. C., on behalf of the accused: -

Q. Which floor was the deceased's bedroom on?

A. The second floor.

Q. Above which room is it located?

A. It's very difficult for me to say above which room, since the bedroom where the deceased was was large. Downstairs, there looked to me to be small separate rooms.

Q. Isn't it above the kitchen?

A. It might be above part of the kitchen.

Q. In this bedroom, was there only the bed or mattress that you exhibited here?

A. There was another bed.

Q. Similar?

A. No, Monsieur. It was a wooden bed, without a mattress, moved to one side.

Q. Was what you exhibited as a mattress was that on the bed?

A. Excuse me. On the floor.

Q. There were no blankets?

A. No, Monsieur.

Q. Was it rolled up or stretched out?

A. Stretched out.

Q. Was there no straw next to it?

A. Very little.

Q. Was there some?

A. Yes, Monsieur.

Q. Was the straw dry or damp?

A. It was dry and damp. That's to say, some of it was damp and some of it was dry.

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Q. Was there straw in that mattress?

A. Very little.

Q. When you went there, it was a day or two after the child died?

A. I was told that the child died on the 12th, and I went there the 13th.

Q. The next day, then?

A. Yes, Monsieur.

Q. When you went to get the child's body, it was not in that room?

A. No, Monsieur. It was downstairs.

Q. Were you alone when you inspected the room?

A. Upstairs, yes, Monsieur. The first time I was alone, on the day of the arrest, the 14th.

Q. When did you inspect the room for the first time?

A. On the morning of the 14th.

Q. Were you alone?

A. Yes, Monsieur.

Q. At what time did you do this inspection?

A. It was about nine in the morning.

Q. Did you inspect it again after?

A. Yes, Monsieur.

Q. The same day?

A. No, Monsieur.

Q. When?

A. The following Tuesday, the 17th.

Q. Were you alone?

A. I was alone again.

Q. Did you inspect it once again?

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A. Yes, Monsieur, on Wednesday the 18th, with two other people. I took along Madame Arcade Lemay and one Monsieur Odilon Auger of Ste. Philomène.

Q. You say that there were blood and other substances on the pallet; how can you swear that it's blood?

A. By the colour.

Q. By the colour alone?

A. Yes, Monsieur.

Q. You think it's blood?

A. In my opinion, it's blood.

Q. And you take it upon yourself to swear that it's blood?

A. Yes, Monsieur. It's blood.

Q. What if it were iodine tincture?

A. If it were iodine tincture, it would have cost quite a bit to cover such a large area.

Q. Did you ever personally do studies on blood and iodine tincture?

A. I never had the privilege.

Q. And you persist in swearing that according to the examination you did, it's blood?

A. Yes, Monsieur. To me, it's blood.

Q. You are sure of that?

A. To me, it's blood.

Q. When you inspected the room again on the 17th and 18th, had anything changed?

A. It was absolutely the same as the first day I inspected it with respect to the blood. Only I wanted to have evidence, and for this reason, I brought Madame Lemay and Monsieur Auger.

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Q. But you didn't find anything more than the first time, after your so careful examination?

A. It was absolutely the same.

Q. Was the wooden bed still there?

A. Yes, Monsieur.

Q. Were there other wooden beds in the room?

A. No, Monsieur.

Q. Is this a large wooden bed or a small one?

A. A double bed.

Q. Two children can sleep in that?

A. Yes, Monsieur.

Q. The room is lit by a window?

A. Yes, Monsieur.

Q. One or two windows?

A. If I recall correctly, one window only.

Q. A large or a small window?

A. Medium; I didn't measure it.

Q. Is the room heated?

A. It's heated by the stove downstairs. That's to say, the stovepipe goes up to that room.

Q. There's only one stove in the house?

A. I saw only one.

Q. Is there more than one?

A. I can't say.

Q. Didn't you inspect the house, aside from the bedroom?

A. What was of interest to me was the deceased's bedroom.

Q. How is this house divided, Monsieur? To begin with, the ground floor, upon entering.

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A. The entrance is into the kitchen.

Q. Is the stove in the kitchen?

A. Yes, Monsieur.

Q. Is it entirely in the kitchen, or is there a dividing partition?

A. It is entirely in the kitchen.

Q. Does the staircase lead to the upper floor from the kitchen?

A. Yes, Monsieur.

Q. Is this staircase near the door into the deceased's bedroom?

A. Yes, Monsieur.

Q. How far is the staircase from the door into the deceased's bedroom?

A. I can't say because I didn't measure it.

Q. Approximately how many feet? Two feet, three feet?

A. .…. (No answer).

Q. Isn't it true that the deceased's bedroom door is about one or two steps from the hole for the staircase?

A. I know it's not far.

Q. Is there a door to the room?

A. Yes, Monsieur, a wooden door.

Q. Does the stovepipe pass entirely through that bedroom?

A. Yes, Monsieur.

Q. When you entered the room, did the room seem cold to you?

A. Yes, Monsieur.

Q. It was morning, about nine o'clock?

A. Yes, Monsieur.

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Q. Was the door shut when you arrived at the bedroom?

A. Yes, Monsieur.

Q. You say the axe handle and the whip were found in the stable?

A. Excuse me. The handle in the shed, and the whip in the stable.

Q. You know this only because the little boy told you so?

A. No. I went with him to get the axe handle in the shed.

Q. I'm asking you if you knew personally where this whip handle was.

A. In the stable.

Q. Because you were told so?

A. Yes, Monsieur. I saw them go into the stable.

Q. Did you find the switch in the bedroom?

A. Yes, Monsieur.

Q. Was it near the bed?

A. Not absolutely far away from the mattress, on the ground.

Q. Not near the wooden bed?

A. No, Monsieur.

Q. Right near the mattress?

A. No; not absolutely. One could say about six or seven feet away.

Q. Was this axe handle cut like this when it was given to you in Ste. Philomène?

A. Yes, Monsieur.

Q. And you obtained these exhibits on the day of your first visit, the fourteenth, didn't you?

A. On Saturday morning, it was the switch.

Q. And when did you get the whip?

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A. On Tuesday, along with the axe handle.

Q. The seventeenth?

A. Yes, Monsieur.

Source: ANQ, TP12, S1, SS1, SSS1, 1960-01-357605, 3C 030 03-07-001B-01, Cour des sessions de la paix, matières criminelles, greffe de Québec, Déposition de Lauréat Couture, enquête préliminaire de Télesphore Gagnon, February 24, 1920, 11.

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