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Quebecker charged with murdering his children sobs in court

The family home of physician Guy Turcotte in Piedmont, Quebec.

Guy Turcotte/La Presse/Guy Turcotte/La Presse

A Quebec cardiologist charged with murdering his two young children lamented his failed marriage in a phone conversation with his mother the night before they were killed.

It was an apologetic Guy Turcotte who spoke to his mother in February, 2009, apologizing for a recent family trip to Whistler, B.C., during which the tension between himself and his spouse had been palpable.

Then the young doctor from St-Jerome, north of Montreal, sounding depressed, discussed a tumultuous decade-long relationship that had ended.

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Mr. Turcotte, 38, has pleaded not guilty to two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of five-year-old Olivier and three-year-old Anne-Sophie.

The contents of Mr. Turcotte's conversation with his mother, Marguerite Fournier, were presented by the Crown on Monday as his trial began.

The once-prominent doctor sobbed in court as Crown prosecutor Claudia Carbonneau outlined details of their deaths.

Ms. Carbonneau says the children were stabbed several times.

Ms. Fournier testified that Mr. Turcotte told her during the conversation that Isabelle Gaston, from whom he was separated, had taken up with another man.

"It has been going on for weeks," Ms. Fournier quoted her son as saying.

Ms. Fournier said Mr. Turcotte told her "it was happening in my house, in my bed."

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His mother advised him to look forward, but her son didn't hear her. But then he said something that struck Ms. Fournier as out of character.

"I love you, tell dad I love him," Ms. Fournier recounted, remembering her son repeating those words over and over during the hour-long chat.

"When I heard that discourse, I was afraid he was about to take his own life," she said.

Fearful he'd been drinking, Ms. Fournier wanted to drive to her son's that night, but her husband said to wait.

It was Ms. Fournier who arrived the next day to no grandchildren in sight, the doors locked and the shades drawn at the single-family dwelling in an isolated rural neighbourhood in Piedmont.

"Maybe my husband still had hope (things were OK), but I had no hope at all," she testified.

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Ms. Fournier's chilling 911 call pleading with police to hurry to the rented home was played in court late Monday.

Mr. Turcotte says in a statement of admission filed by the defence he committed an illegal act and caused the deaths of the two children.

However, he'll fight the charge the killings were premeditated.

Mr. Turcotte, seated in the prisoner's box, cried as Ms. Carbonneau discussed the double slaying. He also broke down when his mother's frantic 911 call was played.

Mr. Turcotte's father, in the packed courtroom, also cried upon hearing his wife's emergency call.

When police broke into the locked house and discovered the corpses, they found Mr. Turcotte under a bed. He had ingested windshield washer fluid, Ms. Carbonneau said.

A crime scene technician gave jurors a view inside the home: two knives, two blood-stained beds, a near-empty washer fluid container in a bathroom and vomit on the floors.

"How do we come to understand? How do we come to explain a drama like this?" Ms. Carbonneau told the jury of seven women and five men.

She says her case will paint a full picture.

Mr. Turcotte was arrested on the spot and has been detained ever since.

If found guilty, he could face life in prison.

About 30 witnesses are expected to testify at the trial, including police, ambulance technicians and family.

Ms. Gaston, a doctor herself, is also expected to take the stand.

The trial is scheduled to last between six and eight weeks.

Ms. Fournier is to be cross-examined Tuesday.

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