A loving mother and loyal friend. A non-judgmental confidant and doting grandfather.
Family members and friends paid homage to Véronique Barbe and Yvon Lacasse in a Saint-Jérôme, Que., courtroom Tuesday. The pair was killed in September 2017 by Ugo Fredette, who was convicted of first-degree murder in their deaths last month.
Fredette fatally stabbed 41-year-old Barbe, his ex-spouse. He then fled her home with a six-year-old boy and while on the run, killed Lacasse, 71, after stealing his vehicle.
The child's disappearance triggered the longest Amber Alert in Quebec history. The boy and Fredette were found near Dacre, Ont., about 130 kilometres west of Ottawa, almost 24 hours after the alert was triggered.
At Fredette's sentencing hearing Tuesday, each testimonial was punctuated by sniffles and sobs from those gathered in the courtroom.
Many of Barbe's loved ones described a vibrant woman whose spirit was broken, bit by bit, by Fredette — and how their own spirits have been broken, in turn, now that she is gone.
Fredette sat in the prisoner's box wearing a white, long-sleeved shirt over a blue shirt. He was largely expressionless, staring straight ahead — except for one moment.
Jovette Biard, Barbe's godmother, spoke directly to him while reading her letter.
"You treated her like an object," she told him, crying.
Fredette shook his head, seemingly disagreeing with her assessment of their relationship.
"I hope you realize all the hurt you caused," she said.
Lacasse was portrayed as a loving father, grandfather and partner, a man who sowed happiness wherever he went.
His daughter, Jennifer Lacasse, spoke on behalf of the family — her father's six siblings, her brother and her father's eight grandchildren.
She also addressed Fredette directly while reading her letter, calling the loss of her father a "gaping wound."
"You brought so much darkness to their young lives," she said to him, talking about the grandchildren.
"People that young shouldn't have to learn to live with such suffering, but that is their reality, thanks to your actions."
Quebec Superior Court Justice Myriam Lachance thanked those who spoke and acknowledged the courage it takes to be able to sit down and put their feelings into words.
"I know how hard it is for you to deliver these statements, but they are necessary," Lachance said.
A broken boy
The woman who is now taking care of the boy who was with Fredette on the day of the murders submitted a letter that was read aloud, describing how these days, he is doing relatively well.
But when they met two years ago, he was broken, she wrote. His nightmares used to jolt him awake.
"I've never seen such fright on someone's face. Not to mention the cries, the cries that I will never forget," she said.
Other children in the family spoke of the loss of innocence that came with Barbe's death, the moments she won't be around for, how betrayed they felt by Fredette.
A letter from Barbe's father, Pierre Barbe, was also read aloud — in it, he explained that he couldn't bring himself to attend the court proceedings.
"There will never be a punishment big enough," he wrote. "My daughter will never return."
Stéphane Barbe likened his sister to a butterfly — someone who brought colour into his, and his family's, lives.
"Often, when I lost my colours, you knew how to help me get them back. But now that you're gone, I have to find another butterfly ... without ever forgetting you," he said.
Jennifer Lacasse said the six days her father was missing before his body was found were the most stressful of her life.
But what hurts the most, she said, is that he died alone.
"I would give anything to tell him 'I love you' one more time."
When will Fredette be up for parole?
First-degree murder comes with an automatic life sentence without a chance of parole for 25 years.
However, since Fredette was found guilty on two counts of first-degree murder, the judge must now decide whether his pair of life sentences should be served concurrently or consecutively.
The prosecution is asking that they be served consecutively, which would mean Fredette would be imprisoned for 50 years, only eligible for parole at the age of 94.
The defence wants the sentences to be served concurrently, meaning Fredette could apply for parole in 25 years.
Lachance doesn't want to render a decision on the length of Fredette's sentence until the Court of Appeal makes a decision in the case of Quebec City mosque shooter Alexandre Bissonnette. Both cases deal with similar questions regarding the constitutionality of consecutive sentences.
Bissonnette's defence argues the sentence he received, 40 years without a chance of parole, is unconstitutionally long. But prosecutors say it's not long enough. Both sides have appealed the sentence.
That appeal is expected to be heard Jan. 27 and 28, 2020.