Mother faces first-degree murder charges in court
A Gatineau woman appeared in court Monday to face first-degree murder charges in the death of her adopted seven-year-old daughter.
Fifty-three-year-old Catherine Dufresne appeared disheveled and showed no emotion as she made the unexpected appearance.
Even her lawyer was surprised Dufresne made it after apparently being released from hospital earlier in the day.
Police said she was formally charged with first-degree murder over the phone on Sunday, as she was in hospital at the time.
She will undergo a 30-day psychiatric assessment to determine if she's fit to stand trial.
"Each case is different but in this case we're not surprised that the lawyer asked for the assessment," said Crown attorney Sylvain Petitclerc.
Quebec provincial police said Dufresne's husband came home from a business trip on Saturday afternoon to their Gatineau Park home near Kingsmere Estate where he found his daughter unresponsive.
They said his wife was also found seriously injured with signs she had tried to kill herself.
The pair was taken to hospital, where the girl was pronounced dead.
Police said they aren't looking for any other suspects. They have spoken to the husband and cleared him of any involvement.
"The father met with the investigators, had an interview, the investigators concluded he is not involved in the event," said Christine Coulombe with Quebec provincial police, who have taken over the investigation from MRC des Collines.
The husband, Murray Fitzpatrick, is an advisor with BMO Financial in Ottawa.
Community in shock
Neighbours said the family was loving and was often seen spending time with their daughter, who was adopted from China five-and-a-half years ago.
"I was saddened. . . I'm still sad," said Chelsea resident Sylvie Gallienne.
"I know the mom, she was a great mother, always smiling," said Martine Pigeon. "You would see that mother-daughter relationship that some people don't have and she had."
Grief counsellors and psychiatrists were on hand at her former Montessori school, as well as the public school where she went for kindergarten and Grade 1.
The daughter's cause of death has not been released, although authorities said an autopsy is scheduled for Monday.
With reports from CTV Ottawa's Catherine Lathem