A prosecutor in the murder trial of Hosea Amorus Puhya asked the jury to remember how the accused is alleged to have brought his toothbrush when he hid in a wooded area and waited for hours before stabbing his ex-wife 14 times in front of their young children.

Philippe Vallières-Roland listed several pieces of evidence while making the Crown’s closing arguments at the Montreal courthouse on Tuesday. Vallières-Roland said there is evidence the homicide was premeditated.

Puhya, 51, is charged with first-degree murder.

Perhaps the most chilling evidence was how the police found the toothbrush in a plastic shopping bag among the trees where Puhya is alleged to have hid before Gisèle Itale Betondi emerged from her apartment on des Oblats St. in LaSalle on the morning of Sept. 8, 2022. She was taking two of the former couple’s three children to daycare.

A specially trained dog named Diego found the murder weapon, a curved knife, in the wooded area after Betondi was killed. Two empty sardine cans were also recovered by police and Puhya’s fingerprint was found on the plastic bag.

The Crown’s theory is that Puhya took buses and used the métro to make a long trip from Ahuntsic to LaSalle before he hid in the wooded area. The jury was shown images of a man resembling Puhya using public transit who was carrying the same green plastic bag.

The stabbing was recorded by a surveillance camera pointed at the parking lot where Betondi was loading her children into her car when she was attacked. The camera recorded how the attacker stabbed Betondi 10 times and then walked away before returning to stab her four more times.

Vallières-Roland conceded the video does not clearly identify Puhya as the assailant. He argued that Puhya’s identity was confirmed by Betondi’s last words. She shouted out to her friend and neighbour, who witnessed what happened, and said the attacker was her husband.

“Does he build up his frustrations over time and think things through? Or was this murder a spur-of-the-moment act of spontaneous rage? That is for you to decide,” the prosecutor said while referring to phone calls between Puhya and Betondi that were recorded in the days and months before she was stabbed. “Remember what the accused said on Jan. 7, 2022: ‘I will put a knife in your belly and you will die instantly.’”

Five days before the homicide, Puhya was recorded telling Betondi: “My kids will never call you Mother in front of me. I will make sure they never call you Mother. I will kill you. I am telling you I will kill you.”

“These are direct quotes,” Vallières-Roland said, noting how the recordings he was referring to were found on Puhya’s phone.

“They are like windows into his mind. They may inform you of his state of mind and his intent to kill.”

Some of the recordings were so disturbing, Vallières-Roland recalled, that a court interpreter refused to translate them during the trial.

Puhya did not present a defence and his lawyer, Antonio Cabral, argued the evidence shows the stabbing was “an act of rage and not premeditated,” a requirement for a first-degree murder conviction.

Cabral also questioned whether the Crown succeeded in identifying Puhya as being the person recorded in the video.

“Quite frankly, I’ve watched that video over and over again and can you really say, if you watched that video, that the person who comes out of those woods is really Hosea Amorus Puhya? The quality is not optimal, so it’s really hard to recognize anyone for all that matters,” Cabral said. “You are the judges of the facts and you will decide whether the person you see in the video is Mr. Puhya or not.”

Cabral noted that while Betondi’s friend and neighbour witnessed the stabbing, she did not see the attacker’s face and she did not meet Puhya previously. He also questioned why the neighbour did not say that Betondi identified her ex-husband as her attacker when she gave her first statement to the police. The neighbour only reported this months later.

The attorney also argued that the toothbrush found in a plastic bag and the sardine cans are evidence his client was “a man who had lost everything” after Betondi left him. Cabral noted how, during his five-hour interrogation, Puhya claimed to a homicide detective that he was left homeless after he was charged with threatening Betondi months before she was killed.

“He is a broken man,” Cabral said.

“Facts are important, not theories. If you look at all the facts, this is not a premeditated murder.”

Superior Court Justice Catherine Perreault is expected to deliver her final instructions to the jury on Wednesday.

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