Trial begins in case of Norwich man accused of killing his pregnant wife

Patrick Antoine appears in Norwich Superior Court on Friday June 3, 2016. Antoine is charged with murder and arson arising from the fire and death of Margarette Mady at 283-285 Franklin St. in Norwich in 2016. ( Sean D. Elliot/The Day ) Buy photo prints

The man who police say confessed to stabbing his pregnant wife to death in 2016 because he believed she was a “voodoo priestess” who cast spells on him is set to go on trial on Wednesday.

Patrick Antoine, 46, a Haitian who said he came to the United States legally with his wife in 2013, chose to stand trial for murder before a three-judge panel in New London Superior Court.

Antoine’s attorney, Robert F. Kappas, will pursue an insanity defense and the possibility that Antoine may be confined to the state mental hospital rather than jail.

The case is being tried before Judges Ernest Green Jr., Shari A. Murphy and Hillary Strackbein.

Antoine has been held in jail on $2 million bail since his arrest by Norwich Police on the morning of June 2, 2016. On that date, Antoine showed up in the lobby of Norwich Police Headquarters covered in blood and told Norwich Police Sgt. Jonathan Ley, “I Killed My Wife,” Records Show.

At the same time Antoine was speaking to officers, Norwich firefighters had responded to Antoine’s apartment at 283-285 Franklin St. where they found the body of Antoine’s wife, Margarette Mady, 37. Burned and bleeding, Mady was pronounced dead at the scene.

Police say Antoine admitted to having an argument with his wife, then stabbing her repeatedly with a wooden-handled steak knife and using a lighter to set curtains on fire in several rooms of the house.

Mady had suffered lacerations and stab wounds to her head and face, upper and lower limbs, as well as defensive wounds to her hands. She was eight months pregnant.

“The defendant stated that he and his wife (the victim) had a verbal argument in the morning,” the police report said. “The defendant believed the victim was a voodoo priestess who had cast several spells on him over the past two years. The defendant knew that the victim was eight months pregnant with a child he believed was not his and the victim repeatedly told him that he would have died by July as a sacrifice before the birth of the ‘child. The defendant truly believed that the victim was going to kill him and had made him fatally ill for the past two years.

Kappas, Antoine’s attorney, notified the state in 2019 of his intention to pursue an insanity defense and present testimony related to “the existence and nature of the mental illness and defect.”

The judges hearing the case may decide that the state has proven its case but decide that Antoine’s defense has established that at the time Antoine committed the crime “he lacked substantial capacity due to illness or mental defect to assess the wrongfulness of his conduct or to control his conduct.”

If the judges rule in favor of the defense, Antoine would be found not guilty by reason of mental illness or infirmity and committed to the Whiting Forensic Hospital under the custody of the Psychiatric Security Review Board. Otherwise, Antoine faces up to more than 100 years in prison for three crimes: murder, first-degree arson, and assault on a pregnant woman resulting in pregnancy termination.

Kappas said the reason for the defense was to get Antoine to a place where he could receive treatment for his mental health needs.

Antoine’s ability to stand trial was first questioned early in the court proceedings. The court in 2016 found him incompetent or unable to understand the proceedings or assist in his own defence. He spent several months in a state mental institution before being “restored to his capacity”.

There are different standards of skill and insanity. Competence is the ability to understand court proceedings and to assist in one’s own defence.

The case is being prosecuted by State’s Attorney Paul Narducci, who declined to comment on details of the state’s case. Narducci said the case was one of the oldest outstanding murder cases in the region and was delayed in part because of the pandemic and also because both sides sought expert witnesses in the area. case related to Antoine’s mental health.

Part of Antoine’s background is contained in a competency report released Dec. 21 by the state Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. Antoine met and married his wife in Haiti. Mady was a US citizen of Haitian descent who sponsored him to become a permanent resident, Antoine told investigators.

Although he told investigators he had no history of mental illness, Antoine admitted to being taken to William W. Backus Hospital on February 11, 2016 – less than four months before he killed his wife – for a psychiatric assessment.

“He told a social worker he believed ‘devil’ related things were happening at home and it was interfering with his sleep.” He supported the belief that someone was poisoning his food and that it had weakened him, the skill report says.

Antoine also recalled a night spent in the emergency department of a hospital in Haiti where he had had a similar experience but “he was able to end the problem with prayer,” according to the report.

His wife, at the time, had written a letter stating that four years before, Antoine had told his wife that his family members wanted to kill him and others wanted to harm him with witchcraft. He has also reported auditory hallucinations which he combats by playing music out loud “to drown out voices”, the report says.

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Elna M. Lemons