Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Crime Passionnel

'C'est Faux!'

The trial was a highly entertaining but brief-running show.

The jury of seven men listened to a total of just 16 hours of testimony.

The gallery tittered when Mrs. Chevallier, dressed in a stern gray suit, mounted the defendants dock.

Yvonne Chevallier at trial
Yvonne Chevallier at trial
Jail had left the woman thin and pale, evoking even more sympathy from spectators, reporters and the judge, Raymond Jadin.

The judge asked Mrs. Chevallier a series of questions about her marriage. She began to sob as she described her relationship with her husbands bourgeois family.

They regarded me as one of the mistakes of Pierres youth, she said.

Judge Jadin questioned Mrs. Chevallier closely about the hostile meeting she had with Jeanne Perreau after the affair came to light. According to author David Rowans account in his book Famous European Crimes, the following exchange took place.

Jadin asked, You told Madam Perreau that you were going to kill your husband?

No! Mrs. Chevallier replied.

You added that it would be a crime passionnel and you would be acquitted?

Cest faux! (Thats not true!) she cried.

Jadin pressed her for her reaction when Pierre coldly informed her that he would divorce her in favor of Jeanne Perreau, who was sitting in the courtroom.

Mrs. Chevallier began to stammer an answer, then collapsed in faint.

After a 15-minute recess, Judge Jadin asked Mrs. Chevallier to explain the circumstances of the fifth shot, whose premeditation would seem to mitigate the crime passionnel defense.

She replied that she had intended to return to the bedroom and commit suicide beside her beloved Pierre. She explained that the gun fired accidentally, striking her husband in the back.

Again titters rippled through the gallery. But Jadin let the explanation stand without further interrogation.

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