Friday, April 12, 2002
Wife charged 17 years after man gunned down
Gatineau woman allegedly contracted killing of husbandSarah Staples
The Ottawa Citizen
Seventeen years after Hull disc jockey Michel Fournier was gunned down in a church parking lot while packing up from a dance, his wife has been arrested on charges that she contracted the killing.
Monique Goulet-Fournier was arrested Wednesday afternoon at her home in Gatineau and appeared in court yesterday. She is charged with first-degree murder in the death of her husband, who bled to death after his killer emptied a .25-calibre semi-automatic pistol into him outside Notre Dame de la Guadeloupe Church in 1985.
Authorities said "new information" led to the arrest of Ms. Goulet-Fournier, 55, whom they say collected more than $145,000 in life insurance money after her husband's slaying and was the sole heir to his estate.
Next door to the courtroom where Ms. Goulet-Fournier made her appearance, her alleged lover, Robert Lagacé, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in connection with the case. Mr. Lagacé, 50, had originally been charged last November with first-degree murder.
Crown lawyer Marc Bisson, who prosecuted Mr. Lagacé's case, said the accused's plea was "not at all connected" to Ms. Goulet-Fournier's arrest. He called the timing of the arrest "coincidental."
But the Crown has argued that Mr. Lagacé and Mrs. Goulet-Fournier lived together briefly during the during the summer of 1985, and that a public spat in an area bar led Ms. Goulet-Fournier to reconcile with her husband weeks before he was shot.
Mr. Lagacé allegedly then contacted an acquaintance, Michel Chenier, who recruited another man, Pierre Joanisse, to carry out the killing.
"New information" also led to the arrests of Mr. Joanisse and Mr. Chenier in 1999 in the case that had gone unsolved for more than 13 years.
Mr. Joanisse was charged in April 1999 with first-degree murder, but pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole for 11 years.
Shortly afterward, Gatineau's Mr. Chenier was charged with first-degree murder, pleaded guilty to manslaughter, and was imprisoned for life with no possibility of parole for 10 years.
The victim, a 36-year-old Bell Canada employee who worked as a disc jockey on the side, was shot through the window of his car at 1:30 a.m. on Sept. 22, 1985, in the parking lot of the St.-Onge Street church.
He had been loading stereo equipment into his car that Saturday night after working a softball league dinner-dance when the shot was fired through his car window.
He tried to escape through the passenger door, but was hit in the head and back with six slugs from a .25-calibre pistol.
He fell down the basement stairs, where he was found, clutching his bleeding abdomen.
He was unable to identify his killer before dying at Outaouais Regional Hospital an hour later. Ms. Goulet-Fournier, who had helped him during the evening, was inside the hall.
Police found the gun used to kill Mr. Fournier, but two successive investigations failed to turn up any other leads. In 1998, a major break in the case came when a third team of investigators traced the ownership of the gun back to Mr. Joanisse.
Mr. Chenier's lover, Tracy Parker, later told police that the two men had planned the hit and that Mr. Joanisse had pulled the trigger. And DNA evidence from a bloody glove found at the scene proved to be from Mr. Chenier. The evidence was considered strong enough to result in charges against the two men.
Mr. Lagacé was portrayed as an alcoholic drifter and petty criminal who worked odd jobs and had previously been arrested for allegedly uttering death threats and forging documents. At one point, he worked as a mechanic with Mr. Chenier at a muffler shop.
Police were able to implicate Mr. Lagacé in the crime when Mr. Chenier told them Mr. Lagacé recruited him to help carry out the killing.
The Crown's Mr. Bisson told reporters Mr. Lagacé "was not the one who ordered the murder."
Mr. Lagacé's lawyer said Mr. Chenier's subsequent testimony against his client was the critical piece of evidence that prompted Mr. Lagacé to plead guilty. The lawyer said his client received no payment for the killing. Mr. Lagacé will be sentenced to between 10 years to life in prison at his sentencing next Wednesday.
The Crown is expected to argue that Ms. Goulet-Fournier ordered her husband killed because she stood to gain financially from his death. Her defence lawyer, Michel Isabelle, said police have four boxes of evidence against his client, which he has not yet seen.
"I think it's evident that Mr. Lagacé has things to say and that he is taking advantage of that" he said, adding the timing of Ms. Goulet-Fournier's arrest was "probably not a coincidence."
Ms. Goulet-Fournier will appear in Quebec Superior court next Wednesday to try to arrange for bail.
"After 17 years, you still grieve," said the vitim's mother, Claire Fournier. "So we are pleased and relieved about the turn of events."
© Copyright 2002 The Ottawa Citizen