Tried on appeal, Gabriel Fortin, the “HR killer”, does not wish to attend the proceedings

From the opening of his appeal trial, Monday May 13 in Grenoble, Gabriel Fortin, nicknamed "the HRD killer", set the tone: he does not wish to appear, having "nothing to say" about his deadly outfit of 2021

Tried on appeal, Gabriel Fortin, the “HR killer”, does not wish to attend the proceedings

From the opening of his appeal trial, Monday May 13 in Grenoble, Gabriel Fortin, nicknamed "the HRD killer", set the tone: he does not wish to appear, having "nothing to say" about his deadly outfit of 2021. Dressed in black, shaved head and slightly overweight, the accused, whose presence was uncertain, finally made his entry shortly after 2 p.m. into the glass box of the Isère Assize Court, which judges him until May 29 for three murders and one attempted murder.

Barely had the jury draw finished, and while the president of the court began reading her report, Gabriel Fortin suddenly asked to speak to declare that he wished to “neither attend the debates” nor “come in this chamber.” “I would like to leave the building and not return for the next few days. » The president “acted” this request, while suggesting that he could be forced to appear at a later date.

Tried at first instance in Valence, Gabriel Fortin, 49, was sentenced in June 2023 to life in prison, with a maximum security sentence of twenty-two years. The jurors found that psychological disorders had impaired his discernment, without applying a reduction in sentence. A new psychiatric assessment has since been carried out, according to the president of the court, and his mental health will be one of the issues in the trial.

“He’s not the Gabriel I knew before.”

The first witness called to the stand, his older brother Olivier, described at length their fatherless but “normal” childhood, then the evolution of their relationship, increasingly distended after adolescence. In particular, he was unaware that his younger brother had become a member of a shooting club: “If I had known, I would have been much more worried, it would have been an important clue,” he said, adding: “ For me, he is sick, he is crazy. He is not the Gabriel I knew before. »

At first instance, Gabriel Fortin did not give an explanation for his actions, nor showed remorse. Hermetic, even cold, he posed as a victim, denouncing “personal attacks” and an incriminating investigation. It appeared that the discreet engineer living in Nancy, a sports shooting enthusiast and socially isolated, experienced unemployment as an injustice and could not bear his social downgrading.

From the first days of the investigation, the prosecution emphasized that its actions appeared to have been carefully prepared. The engineer harbored a stubborn resentment: three of the four victims had been associated with his two dismissals, one in Eure-et-Loir in 2006 and the other in Ardèche in 2009. The fourth worked in a Pôle emploi agency in Valence that he had frequented.

The “risk of a trial for nothing”

It was in Valence that he shot dead an advisor, Patricia Pasquion, 54, on January 28, 2021, before going to Guilherand-Granges, in Ardèche, to kill Géraldine Caclin, 51, director of human resources at Faun Environnement , from which he had been fired.

After an eventful arrest, carried out by police officers who had hit his vehicle while he was traveling in the wrong direction on a bridge, the link was quickly established with another murder and an armed attack that had occurred two days earlier in Haut-Rhin. . Estelle Luce, another HR manager, was shot and killed in the parking lot of her company. Bertrand Meichel, also in human resources, narrowly escaped an armed attack at his home.

For the families of the victims present at the appeal trial in Grenoble, it seems unlikely that the accused will renounce his rigid attitude. “I have no expectations. If he moves, I can only be pleasantly surprised,” Bertrand Meichel, who will have to testify again in court about what he suffered, told Agence France-Presse. " It's not simple. We deal with it. » For Denis Dreyfus, one of the lawyers for the civil parties, “if he remains silent”, there is a “risk of a trial for nothing except prolonging the extreme suffering of the victims”.