BY PAUL CHERRY, GAZETTE CRIME REPORTER JUNE 24, 2013 5:20 PM
MONTREAL — Adele Sorella has been found guilty of the first-degree murders of both of her daughters.
A jury that had been presiding for more than three days made the decision Monday morning.
Superior Court Justice Carol Cohen quickly sentenced Sorella to a life sentence with no chance at full parole for 25 years. Sorella spent about a year in detention following her arrest and was released on bail in 2010.
Sorella appeared to be stunned by the decision but she did not cry.
As was revealed during her trial, she once told police she lost her tear ducts after having a brain tumor removed in 2001, while she was pregnant with Sabrina her youngest daughter. The tumour also left Sorella with permanent paralysis in parts of her face making it difficult for an outsider to read her reactions during the trial.
Juror No. 5, a foreman, was the person chosen by the jury to state the verdicts. He did so in a calm voice that indicated slightly he was relieved the eight-week trial is over.
Only two members of the 12-person jury were able to look in Sorella's direction before the verdict was announced. Defence lawyer Pierre Poupart appeared to be lost in though as he nodded absently and looked toward the jury while Cohen thanked them for completing their difficult task.
The convictions mean the jury was convinced Sorella, 47, carefully planned the premeditated murders of her daughters — Sabrina De Vito, 8, and Amanda, 9 — on March 31, 2009.
During the trial, the jury heard how Sorella, who had made three suicide attempts beforehand, made sure her mother Theresa Di Cesare left her home that morning for an appointment Sorella had arranged for her.
Sorella then lied that the girls had appointments with doctors that day as a means to explain why they weren't heading off to school.
The trial represented an uphill battle for the prosecutors, Maria Albanese and Louis Bouthillier. The Crown's theory was that Sorella killed her daughters using a hyperbaric chamber that she had purchased in 2008 to treat Sabrina's juvenile arthritis.
When used normally, the chamber supplies air with a higher concentration of oxegen for the person inside it. But, a chemist testified, the chamber could be hermetically sealed and if the girls were placed inside it, under those conditions, they would have died in 90 minutes.
Caroline Tanguay, a pathologist, came up with the theory of the chamber as the murder weapon by process of elimination.
She said that if the girls were comfortable inside the chamber they would not have noticed that the air they were breathing was gradually losing oxygen. She said the girls likely died peacefully after having fallen asleep.
Tanguay was left having to come up with a theory because such deaths by asphyxiation leave no trace on the body.
"I believe they jury was able to grasp the evidence we presented," Albanese said while acknowledging the case was a challenging one.
"We're happy with the verdict if you consider it wasn't an easy (case). It was very difficult for a lot of people. Everyone worked really hard. The members of the jury also worked really hard to render their verdict today."
When she was arrested on April 1, 2009, Sorella was interrogated by Laval police Det.-Sgt. Francois Guy Delisle. She revealed very little during the interrogation and invoked her right to remain silent many times. She claimed to believe her daughters were still alive which appeared to leave Delisle perplexed.
At one point Delisle told Sorella: "I'm only the first person who is going to ask you why. Many, many people are going to ask you why in the future."
"I don't have to answer to them," Sorella said.
"You don't have what?" Delisle asked.
"I don't have to answer to anybody," Sorella replied.