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Trial begins for accused in Brentwood murders

By Scott Strasser, May 17 2016 —

The trial for a former University of Calgary student who was charged with five counts of first-degree murder began May 16 at the Calgary Courts Centre.

Matthew de Grood is accused of fatally stabbing Lawrence Hong, Joshua Hunter, Kaitlin Perras, Zackariah Rathwell and Jordan Segura on April 15, 2014 at a house-party celebrating the end of classes.

De Grood pleaded not guilty to five counts of first-degree murder, but admitted in a lengthy agreed statement of facts read before the trial that he killed the five victims.

De Grood was committed under the Mental Health Act and housed at a psychiatric facility in southern Alberta following the killings. His lawyer  argues de Grood is not criminally responsible for the murders by reason of a
mental disorder.

Because de Grood’s father was a Calgary Police Service inspector, an out-of-town judge will preside over the case.

Day one of the trial consisted mainly of testimony from various members of Calgary Police Services who were on duty the night of the stabbings. More than 150 people attended the first day of the trial.

When the courtroom reached capacity, two adjacent courtrooms were used as overflow space. Viewers watched the proceedings via closed circuit television screens.

De Grood attended the first day of the trial and sat alone in the prisoner’s box, wearing glasses, a white dress shirt and a dark jacket.

Before the trial began, Gregg Perras — father of Kaitlin — read a statement on behalf of the victims and their families.

“All we ask is that you remember how they lived — full of purpose, full of life, full of goodness and love for their friends and family,” Perras said.

Day two of the trial saw emotional tributes from other family members of the victims.

“He was passionate, driven and he was building up to something,” said Miles Hong, brother of Lawrence. “I never thought that there would be a tomorrow without my brother.”

All five of the victims were post-secondary students. Hong, Hunter and Segura attended the U of C, while Perras and Rathwell studied at Mount Royal University and ACAD, respectively.

Following the Brentwood tragedy, the U of C created three $1,000 scholarships in memory of the victims. The scholarships include the Lawrence Hong Scholarship in Urban Studies, the Joshua Hunter Scholarship in Business and the Jordan Segura Scholarship in Religious Studies.

The scholarships’ first recipients were announced in April 2016, two years after the murders.

The trial is scheduled to last for two weeks, but could conclude sooner than expected.

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