12 chosen for grisly case

Jury picked in 2002 sherbrooke slaying. Trial for Julie Boisvenu’s rape and murder to include 53 witnesses and five experts

CATHERINE SOLYOM

The Gazette

September 9, 2004

Don’t listen to anything you hear about Hugo Bernier.

That was the judge’s advice to the nine women and three men chosen as jurors yesterday in the long-awaited trial of Bernier, accused of kidnapping, raping and murdering Julie Boisvenu, 27.

The gruesome case dates back to St. Jean Baptiste Day 2002, the day Boisvenu disappeared after a night of celebrating a promotion she had just received at work.

Her battered body was found a week later in a ditch in Bromptonville, near Sherbrooke.

The case shocked Sherbrooke, where Boisvenu’s family lives, and captured headlines for weeks. Bernier’s lawyer, Marc Labelle, convinced a judge his client couldn’t get a fair trial in Sherbrooke and had the hearings moved to Montreal.

What is expected to be a six-week trial finally began yesterday, as more than 200 people filed into a courtroom for jury duty.

As soon as they heard there would be 53 witnesses, including 18 police officers, and five experts, almost half of them sought an exemption.

Those with precarious job situations, full-time classes to attend or criminal records, among other reasons, were let off the hook.

Those who said they couldn’t attend because of coming holidays or less-than-perfect command of the French language were not.

Quebec Superior Court Justice Lise Cote then began the process of jury selection, with a question to each of the remaining candidates: Do you have children and, if so, how old are they?

Bernier, 29, wearing a suit and eyeglasses, his dark hair closely cropped, sat silently watching the proceedings from the prisoner’s box as the Crown and the defence sifted through the candidates and accepted or rejected them one by one.

The defence rejected a professional headhunter as well as a cafeteria owner who had a 19-year-old daughter.

Crown prosecutor Andre Campagna rejected a receptionist with no children and a taxi driver with two children.

In the end, the jury that will decide Bernier’s fate is mostly female, mostly young, and mostly childless, whose occupational backgrounds vary from a housewife to a plumber to a television technician.

Once the jury box was full, Cote gave the jurors leave until Sept. 21, when the Crown is to present its opening arguments.

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