‘Not only was the life of my best friend taken that night, but the best part of me was taken, as well’
The way Linda Terris sees it, Reginald Berard deserved a muchlonger parole eligibility provision attached to the life sentence he received for the murder of her good friend Marcel Couillard.
“It isn’t a lot of time he got,” she said, outside the Sudbury Courthouse late Friday afternoon. “I would like to have seen 20 (years). (But) I know he has to earn (parole).”
Terris, who was the person who discovered Couillard’s body lying in a pool of blood on the floor of his living room (in the building next to hers) the night of the murder, and called 911, said she is worried about what will happen when Berard is released.
“(The sentence) was never going to bring Marcel back,” she said. “But anybody who crosses paths with him (upon release), I feel sorry for them. If he killed Marcel when Marcel just told him to shut up, that’s not good.”
On Friday, Berard was given a life sentence with no parole eligibility for 13.5 years for killing 51-year-old Marcel Couillard on Nov. 3, 2015, in his Melvin Street home.
Terris is also the person who ended up with Couillard’s dog – Bella – whom she adopted following the murder.
Terris surprised many in the courtroom Friday morning near the end of reading in her victim impact statement.
“As for you Reggie, I still feel nothing but contempt for you,” she said, turning in Berard’s direction, her voice rising.
“I feel sorry for you. I feel sorry you didn’t have anybody here (during the trial) for you. Even though you will be sentenced today, I can’t feel the smallest bit of sympathy for you ... Our lives have been forever changed because of a single significant act committed out of emotion.”
Moments earlier, Terris said she was proud to have been a good friend of Couillard, a man who she said had a heart of gold and would give someone the shirt off his back if asked.
“Marcel was a kind man who was always ready to lend a helping hand to anyone who needed it,” she said.
Terris said for seven months following Marcel’s death, she was unable to sleep in her bed, sleeping instead in a chair in her living room. She said she now suffers from posttraumatic stress disorder.
“I live in a constant state of fear for myself because of what happened,” she said. “For seven months, I lived next door to where my best friend was murdered. The circumstances of that night so many years ago impacted so many lives. Not only was the life of my best friend taken that night, but the best part of me was taken, as well.”
Richard Couillard said he missed his little brother very much and he cannot put the gruesome nature of his brother’s death out of his mind.
“The pain still lingers,” assistant Crown attorney Kevin Ludgate said, reading from the brother’s victim impact statement. “I think of you every day. Brother, I love you and I miss you. The hurt is real.”
Another brother Ron, became too emotional as he attempted to read his victim impact statement.
“You have no respect for human life,” he said through sobs, to Berard seated to his right.
Ron added that, “the life I had will never be the same. I will never forget (Marcel).”
Sister Gail Thibeault, who lived in the Melvin Avenue area and raced to her brother’s apartment, even going so far as to look inside prior to police closing off the scene, said in her victim impact statement read by Ludgate that the image of her brother lying on his back in a pool of blood is one “that I shall never, ever forget as long as I live …
“It just ripped my heart apart. I was trying so hard not to cry. I was still in shock.”
Thibault said her brother was a special man.
“Marcel was a very good and kind gentleman,” she wrote. “He didn’t deserve to have anything bad happen to him.”
Thibault said she and her brother talked on the phone every day, sometimes several times a day.
“Him and me were like two peas in a pod,” she wrote. “It is sad that Marcel did not get to go hunting and fishing with my brother Richard now that (Richard) is retired.”
Thibault, finally, said the police photographs taken of the grisly murder scene will remain forever etched in her memory.
“Those pictures will never go away in my mind,” she wrote. “He did not deserve to die that way. The damage Reginald did was brutal … I will miss him, his jokes and laughter. He was my brother and my best friend.”
A funeral service was held for Marcel Couillard in Sudbury, Ont. on Saturday November 7, 2015. Couillard was murdered Nov. 3. His killer was sentenced Friday.