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Former judge Jacques Delisle, centre, walks out of a courtroom at his murder trial Tuesday, May 8, 2012 in Quebec City.

Jacques Delisle, believed to be the first Canadian judge to ever stand trial for murder, has been found guilty of first-degree murder in the death of his invalid wife.

There were pained screams in the courtroom from Mr. Delisle's family as the prominent defendant, visibly shaken, was escorted from the courtroom as a convict Thursday. The eight-man, four-woman jury reached the decision on its third day of deliberations. The 77-year-old retired judge will automatically receive the sternest possible sentence in the Criminal Code: life in prison, with no possibility of parole for 25 years.

Mr. Delisle said his wife, Marie-Nicole Rainville, was already dead when he walked into the condo they shared in Quebec City on Nov. 12, 2009.

She lay on a sofa, a .22-calibre pistol at her side and a bullet wound in her head. He called 9-1-1, telling the operator that his wife had committed suicide.

Mr. Delisle's wife was paralyzed on her right side by a stroke two years earlier and had just undergone therapy for a hip fracture that summer.

Mr. Delisle wept during testimony at his trial about his wife's physical challenges, including the loss of the ability to speak foreign languages, play bridge and do puzzles because of her brain damage.

Police accepted Mr. Delisle's explanation for his wife's demise at first and the death was ruled a suicide. But further investigation led to charges of first-degree murder against the retired Quebec Court of Appeal justice.

The Crown argued during Mr. Delisle's month-long trial that he killed his 71-year-old spouse because he wanted to avoid a costly divorce and wanted to move in with his former secretary, with whom he had been having an affair.

Johanne Plamondon, the former secretary, testified she was ready to move in with Mr. Delisle a few days before he was arrested for Ms. Rainville's murder in 2010.

Ms. Plamondon, 57, had started working for Mr. Delisle as a legal secretary in 1983 when he was named to Quebec Superior Court and followed him when he was appointed to the Quebec Court of Appeal in 1992.

While she and the judge were friends at first, Ms. Plamondon testified their feelings evolved in the months before Ms. Rainville's stroke in April 2007.

Another area of contention was a black smudge on Ms. Rainville's left hand from gunshot residue — in a bizarre spot, outside the palm.

The Crown said that happened as she tried to defend herself from the fatal bullet. The defence insisted it came from her awkward grip on the gun as she took her life.

Ms. Rainville's health had been deteriorating and, in the summer of 2009, she fractured her hip. She was in the hospital until two weeks before her death.

Ms. Rainville's sister, Pauline, said Marie-Nicole had expressed suicidal thoughts to her in correspondence in the months after her stroke.

Pauline Rainville also said her sister feared being a burden on her family after her broken hip because of her limited mobility.

She had actually wanted to go into a nursing home instead of returning to her condo.

Pauline Rainville also said she didn't approve of the care provided by Mr. Delisle, and said she didn't think she was ready to be discharged from the hospital after her hip therapy because she was weak and thin.

Pauline Rainville said she had limited contact with her sister because she didn't like being around Mr. Delisle, whom she found aloof.

Marie-Josee Tremblay, who cared for Ms. Rainville in the hospital, said she found her combative and sometimes sad and tired but never depressed.