Man found not responsible for killing nun during epileptic fit is freed

The Canadian Press ~ The News
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MONTREAL - In what a Quebec judge called a unique case for both science and justice, a man who killed a nun while having an epileptic seizure was released under the strictest of conditions Tuesday.
Martin Rondeau was freed after two-and-a-half years behind bars, but under court-ordered conditions aimed at preventing damage when he is deemed to be most dangerous: in his sleep.
Rondeau, 33, suffers from a rare form of nocturnal epilepsy that causes him to have overnight seizures.
It was in such a state that Rondeau beat an elderly nun named Estelle Lauzon to death in a halfway house where Rondeau was staying in 2007.
Lauzon belonged to the Sisters of Providence Convent and founded the halfway house where the attack occurred. Rondeau was a tenant trying to get his life together.
Rondeau, who has no memory of the attack, was found not criminally responsible last week because he was suffering from mental health problems related to the epilepsy.
It took a judge another six days to determine what conditions would be appropriate for such a rare case.
Quebec Superior Court Justice Guy Cournoyer decided Rondeau must live in a secluded home belonging to his family, must take his medication, follow a curfew, sleep alone, and be required to enter and leave the home with a personalized alarm code.
Cournoyer had said he wanted to take his time considering conditions for Rondeau, since there is no apparent Canadian jurisprudence for a case where epilepsy was used as a defence.
A doctor who testified in the case says Rondeau, if he's seizure-free for a year under medication, should not have any more attacks if he continues taking his pills.
Rondeau will continue to be followed by a neurologist and a psychiatrist.
Rondeau's lawyer hailed the co-operation between all parties involved. The judge, police and opposing lawyers co-operated on a solution. Even nuns who were friends with the victim said they forgave Rondeau.
"Everyone worked on the case together, it was a unique case for everyone," said Rondeau's lawyer, Annie Emond.
"He was really patient, the only thing he wanted to know is what his medical condition was and how he could be treated. He never wanted to be released until he knew that he could be properly treated."
The Crown noted that coming to those conditions was no easy task.
"The judge is trying to make the best (of it), he's trying to impose conditions that the accused will be able to abide by," Crown prosecutor Louis Bouthillier said.
"And the accused has been found by the judge and the police to be a good person. He's not someone who is your typical culprit who will do anything to get away.
"He understands his problems and he is otherwise a law-abiding citizen so we have faith he'll abide by these conditions."
A review board, comprising a judge or lawyer along with a psychiatrist and another professional, will take a look at the case in the next 90 days and then again on a yearly basis.
Bouthillier said the people most at-risk are the ones taking Rondeau in - his mother and stepfather.
"It's their responsibility but if you're looking for someone to take those responsibilities, who better than parents?"

Organizations: Sisters of Providence Convent

Geographic location: MONTREAL, Quebec

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