LAVAL, Que. — A Quebec mother on trial for the deaths of her two daughters told a jury she remembers little of what happened the day they died.

Adele Sorella was testifying in her own defence Wednesday at her first-degree murder trial in the deaths of Amanda and Sabrina De Vito.

The girls, aged 9 and 8, were found dead in the family playroom, dressed in their school uniforms.

The cause of death was never established, but the Crown has said the girls had been in good health and that only Sorella would have been able to cause their deaths.

On the stand for a second day, Sorella said she remembered just bits and pieces of March 31, 2009 — being with her children early in the morning, saying goodbye to her mother who shared the home with her and driving her car.

She doesn’t remember if she stopped to get gas or eat, and she doesn’t remember the automobile accident that preceded her arrest that night, she said.

“For me that day is a blank,” Sorella told the jury. “It’s something that I tried so many times to rebuild, to get answers …. I want to know what happened to my girls.”

In the nearly 10 years since their deaths, Sorella said she has read newspaper stories about what happened, and her relatives also have provided her with details, but none of it fits with her memories.

“I don’t know what happened that day,” Sorella said. “It’s not the normal cycle of life to lose your kids.”

On Tuesday, Sorella told jurors she had serious physical problems following an operation to remove a brain tumour and that her mental health deteriorated after her husband ended up on the run from authorities.

In 2006, police arrived at her home to arrest her husband, Giuseppe De Vito as part of a major anti-Mafia operation dubbed Project Colisee. Sorella told the court this was the first inkling she had that her husband was involved with organized crime.

“I told them, ‘You’ve got the wrong person,’ ” she said. But it turned out her husband was not just away for a few days; he was a fugitive.

Sorella said she tried to take her own life three times between 2006 and 2008.

That testimony led the jury to ask Sorella a question Wednesday morning, read by Quebec Superior Court Justice Sophie Bourque. The six man, six woman jury wanted to know if her desire to end her own life had ever led her to want to cause harm to others.

“I never felt the need to hurt anyone else,” Sorella, 52, said through tears. “I felt I was a burden — not good enough to be the mother of my beautiful children.”

She said she sought help at the hospital but didn’t get it. She is currently being followed by a psychiatrist and takes medications three times a day, which have stabilized her situation. Without them, Sorella said, she’d be in a psychiatric ward.

While the cause of the girls’ deaths is unknown, the possible role of a hyperbaric chamber in the family home has been examined. Sorella testified Tuesday that without telling her, De Vito bought two of the chambers to treat Sabrina’s juvenile arthritis. She said she didn’t know how to operate the machines because her husband handled them.

She will be cross-examined by the Crown later Wednesday.

Stephanie Marin, The Canadian Press

The Canadian Press