Montreal Gazette

Murder suspect appeared enraged, trial told

Neighbour testifies about man accused of killing his sisters

- PAUL CHERRY pcherry@postmedia.com

Denis Leblanc's neighbour was already on her phone making a call to 911 before his sisters were shot, because she had “a feeling” something bad was about to happen.

On Wednesday, the neighbour told a jury hearing Leblanc's trial at the Montreal courthouse, where he is charged with murdering his sisters and multiple counts of attempted murder, that she was on the phone with a 911 operator when the two fatal shots were fired.

Based on evidence presented earlier in the trial, combined with the woman's testimony, Leblanc, 63, shot his sister Sylvie, 56, first and his sister Diane, 61, second. The sisters were shot outside Leblanc's home on Ontario St. E. at the back of the duplex where he lived.

The woman who testified Wednesday morning said she was also outside on her back balcony at the duplex next door. Earlier that morning, on Oct. 3, 2020, the woman said, she heard Leblanc shout “The Devil has awoken!” and she later listened to and recorded a conversati­on he had with another neighbour outside near her balcony. She said she recorded the conversati­on “also based on a feeling ” that something bad was about to happen.

Before Leblanc chatted with their mutual neighbour, she saw him toss his cellphone against the wall of a condominiu­m behind them. He then proceeded to smash his phone with a brick, the witness said.

The man Leblanc chatted with cut their conversati­on short when Leblanc's sisters arrived, the woman said.

“He said: `I'm going to leave you with your sisters',” the woman told the jury.

She said Leblanc asked the man to stay and to take a seat, but the man said he had to run an errand with his wife.

“I stayed on the balcony,” the woman said.

“Why?” asked prosecutor Katerine Brabant.

“There again, it was my feeling and the tone Denis used when he talked to his sisters. He said they had no business being there,” the woman said, adding that Leblanc made a reference to the COVID -19 pandemic.

The witness added she heard what sounded like the sound of Leblanc extending a measuring tape and then ordering his sisters to keep a distance from him.

“Mr. Leblanc told his sisters: `You, tabernac, you place yourself there and you, you don't move from there',” the woman recounted. “He was very arrogant and firm and giving orders. He was very loud.

“After hearing all of that, I decided to call 911. Again, there I had a bad feeling. He was talking loud. I decided to call 911 to tell them to send patrol cars to verify what would happen.”

The woman said she told the 911 operator that there was a conflict among her neighbours and that she had a bad feeling that something was about to happen. She also suggested that the patrol cars arrive by a back alley behind the duplexes.

“The woman on 911 was taking all my informatio­n when I heard a shot fired,” she said. “I told the woman: `I think he just shot his sister.' I saw one of his sisters fall down the stairs (of Leblanc's balcony).”

While the 911 operator advised the woman to get inside her apartment, the second shot was fired.

“From there I got inside and closed my door,” the woman said.

She also said Leblanc showed up at her door seconds later with a rifle in his hands and she ended up “face to face” with him looking through a back window.

“He had the look of an enraged person. His eyes were black, black, black,” the woman said, adding she ran out the front entrance to her home and heard shots fired as she descended her spiral staircase.

She said a neighbour across the street let her inside his home and then she watched from a window as Leblanc stood on Ontario St. E. with his rifle in hand looking toward Cadillac St.

She said he exchanged gunfire with the first police officers who arrived and only let go of his firearm after he fell to the ground. The jury has been told Leblanc was shot in a leg during the exchange of gunfire.

Before testifying about the moment when the sisters were shot, the woman recounted how, eight months earlier, she told Leblanc they would only be friends and neighbours after he told her that he was attracted to her.

This was on Feb. 14, 2020 and, the woman said, Leblanc later sent her a series of text messages as she headed to her job as an STM bus driver. She said Leblanc called her “a slut and a dog” in the text messages and threatened to tell the STM that she had smoked cannabis with him. She said Leblanc also told her to watch herself.

The woman said she called the Montreal police twice about the text messages and police officers talked to him both times. She said the police officers advised her to block Leblanc on her phone and to take notes if he threatened her in the future.

She told the jury that she and Leblanc would only say hello to each other whenever their paths crossed after she called the police about the text messages.

 ?? COURT FILES ?? Denis Leblanc is on trial for allegedly shooting his sisters dead at the rear of this home on Ontario St. E. on Oct. 3, 2020.
COURT FILES Denis Leblanc is on trial for allegedly shooting his sisters dead at the rear of this home on Ontario St. E. on Oct. 3, 2020.

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