In the end, nobody believed Rachelle Denis.
She was the killer in the prisoner’s box who often looked distant. The only time her eyes lit up was when the jury heard testimony about her child-like purse and clothes from the kids’ rack. It was fresh evidence, in real-time, that spoke to her mental disorders.
The jury, having heard days of testimony from renowned forensic psychiatrists and from a remorseful Denis, spared her a murder conviction and instead found her guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter in February. They didn’t think she had the mental ability to form the intent to kill.
Denis, 43, was sentenced Thursday to serve only eight more months for ramming her Jeep into Tony El-Kassis, and smashing him into a brick wall as he walked toward the Richmond shopping plaza on July 2, 2010.
The manslaughter verdict is seen in Ottawa legal circles as a victory for Abergel Goldstein, the firm that defended Denis at the second-degree murder trial.
“Ms. Denis, for the first time in almost five years, knows for certain now when she will have paid her debt to society and can be, hopefully, re-united with her children and husband,” said defence lawyer Natasha Calvinho.