Quebec man accused in Ohio deaths says wife attacked him

Associated Press

MASON, OHIO — A Quebec man accused of fatally stabbing his wife and killing his four children in an Ohio house fire argued with his wife on the night of the blaze about money and infidelity, a police detective testified Tuesday.

Michel Veillette's wife confronted him in their kitchen about a $2,000 credit card bill for jewellery that she took as proof he was having an affair, said Det. Jerome Deidesheimer, describing details from a hospital interview Mr. Veillette had given to police.

The detective said Mr. Veillette told his wife he was leaving and went upstairs to pack.

Mr. Veillette, 34, told investigators his wife attacked him in their bedroom, hitting him with a frying pan and stabbing him in the stomach. He then stabbed her during a struggle, Det. Deidesheimer said.

Nadya Ferrari-Veillette, 33, was found with a knife in her chest and had multiple stab wounds, authorities said.

Mr. Veillette told investigators he retrieved a gas can from the garage to set the Jan. 11 fire, which he said quickly became too hot for him to try to reach the children, Det. Deidesheimer said. Mr. Veillette then jumped out a second-floor window of the home, located in an upscale suburban neighbourhood about 30 kilometres northeast of Cincinnati.

The detective didn't say why Mr. Veillette allegedly set the fire. The couple's four children died of smoke-inhalation.

Mr. Veillette's defence lawyer asked a judge Tuesday to dismiss charges of aggravated murder, murder and aggravated arson.

But Mason Municipal Court Judge Andrew Batsche ruled there was probable cause to support charges and sent the case to a grand jury. He also ordered the Canadian-born Mr. Veillette, who was released from a hospital last week, continue to be held without bail.

Mr. Veillette did not enter a plea. He could face the death penalty if convicted of aggravated murder.

Mr. Veillette, dressed in an orange jail suit and wearing shackles, didn't speak aloud during the hearing but sometimes put his head down and quickly shook it back and forth during the testimony.

Tim McKenna, his court-appointed lawyer, suggested police should have pursued other explanations for the fire and questioned the detective about conducting the hospital interview with Mr. Veillette, who was still recovering from injuries.

“He was in the hospital, he was chained to a bed, there was no attorney present and I'm sure that's going to be an issue as to what he said can be admissible in court or not,” Mr. McKenna said after the court hearing.

Mr. Veillette admitted to investigators that he was having an affair and expressed concern about his girlfriend being dragged into the case, Det. Deidesheimer said.

Warren County Prosecutor Rachel Hutzel declined to say whether the girlfriend had been interviewed. Prosecutors have yet to complete their investigation, which has included interviews with people in Canada, she said.