MONTREAL – A Quebec man sentenced to life for fatally stabbing his two young children is seeking permission to appeal the minimum length of time he must serve before he can make a request to be released.
Guy Turcotte’s lawyers filed a motion before the Quebec Court of Appeal on Friday, hoping to challenge the trial judge’s ruling he must spend at least 17 years behind bars before being able to apply for parole.
It is scheduled to be heard in Montreal on Feb. 23.
In December, the former doctor was found guilty of second-degree murder in the February 2009 deaths of Olivier, 5, and Anne-Sophie, 3, who were stabbed a total of 46 times.
In mid-January, Quebec Superior Court Justice Andre Vincent ruled that Turcotte, 43, must serve at least 17 years before he can apply to be released.
READ MORE: Judge rules Guy Turcotte must serve 17 years before parole eligibility
The judge said it reflected the “heinous and horrible crimes.”
In a five-page motion, Turcotte’s attorneys contend Vincent didn’t consider jurisprudence that an inadmissibility period of more than 15 years is justified only when the accused is considered a danger to society.
The defence also alleges the judge did not take into account Turcotte’s mental state at the time of the slayings.
The document says while the jury concluded the appellant did not demonstrate he was suffering from mental troubles that made it impossible for him to appreciate the acts, the evidence presented during the trial suggested the important role played by mental illness could not be dismissed outright.
The Crown asked for 20 years while the defence had countered with a 10-to-15 year suggestion. The jury did not recommend a minimum number of years to be served.
WATCH: Guy Turcotte found guilty
Vincent called the Crown’s suggestion “exaggerated” and said it didn’t reflect the character of an offender with no previous criminal record and not deemed a high risk to society. He also said the defence’s request didn’t fully reflect the moral transgressions of the crime.
Last year’s trial was the second for Turcotte, who in 2011 was found not criminally responsible for mental health reasons.
His lawyers have already appealed the second verdict, saying the judge erred in law on more than one occasion in his instructions to the jurors.
They are seeking a third trial.
Turcotte’s lawyers are asking for the judge’s eligibility ruling to be thrown out and substituted with another minimum deemed fit by the appeals court.
If permitted, the appeal would go ahead only after the verdict appeal is heard.