First witness at Quebec man's double murder trial describes screams, struggle

ST-JEROME, Que. — The jury at the trial of a Quebec man facing two counts of first-degree murder heard testimony Monday from a neighbour who heard horrifying screams and saw a struggle on the day one of the victims, Veronique Barbe, died.

Christine Gouin told the trial of Ugo Fredette in a courthouse north of Montreal that on Sept. 14, 2017 she rushed onto her rear balcony after hearing a woman's screams.

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On the backyard patio next door, she said, she saw Fredette, Barbe and a child.

She said the child was swinging a black object that looked like a pool noodle in Fredette's direction. "There was yelling, loud yelling," said Gouin, who broke down in tears several times during her testimony.

She said she told her partner to call 911. She then saw Fredette holding Barbe under her armpits and trying to pull her back inside through the patio door. She testified that Barbe "was like a rag doll," her head slumped to the side.

Later, Gouin saw Barbe being taken away in an ambulance.

During her testimony, Fredette listened and took notes after the judge gave permission for his handcuffs to be removed.

Fredette pleaded not guilty at the opening of his trial Friday in the deaths of Barbe — his ex-partner — and Yvon Lacasse, a man Fredette is alleged to have killed to secure a getaway vehicle.

Four days before Barbe's death, Gouin said she heard an argument between Fredette and Barbe and the sound of someone being slapped. She said she overheard the accused saying: "Don't call the police."

Later that night, the neighbour said, she was awoken by the sound of an alarm and heard Barbe yelling: "Let go of me, leave me alone."

Two days later, Barbe knocked on Gouin's door and apologized for the noise. Gouin said she told her that she was disturbed and had thought about calling the police, but ultimately did not.

Gouin says that Barbe told her that she was surprised no one called the police and that she would have appreciated it.

"I told her the next time I heard screaming, we would call police," Gouin testified.

Under cross-examination by Fredette's lawyer, Louis-Alexandre Martin, Gouin acknowledged she had heard Barbe raise her voice and insult Fredette in the past but had never heard Fredette yell at his partner.

Crown prosecutor Steve Baribeau told the jury last week that Fredette couldn't accept the end of his relationship with Barbe, 41, so the accused allegedly stabbed her 17 times, in front of a child. Baribeau claims Fredette then fled with the child and while on the lam, allegedly murdered Lacasse, 71, before stealing his car.

Fredette, 43, was arrested Sept. 15, 2017, in Ontario. He was reportedly spotted by citizens across Quebec during his alleged run from authorities.

The Crown has said Fredette and Barbe had been in a relationship since 2009, but things weren't going well in the months leading up to her death.

Prosecutors intend to call 25 witnesses over two months, including a child expected to testify via video conference and the couple's therapist.

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