By Scott Strasser, May 25 2016 —
UPDATED: A former University of Calgary student charged with five counts of first-degree murder was found not criminally responsible (NCR) by Justice Eric Macklin on May 25.
With the NCR decision, Matthew de Grood will be detained at a psychiatric facility pending instructions by the Alberta Review Board. The Crown will seek a high risk designation for de Grood.
After four days of testimony last week, the Crown and Defence read their final arguments on May 24. Both sides agreed de Grood should not be found guilty for the murders of Lawrence Hong, Joshua Hunter, Kaitlin Perras, Zackariah Rathwell and Jordan Segura due to reason of a mental disorder.
“He did not know or appreciate that his actions were morally wrong,” Justice Macklin said at the ruling.
An NCR verdict applies to those who have committed a crime, but cannot understand that what they did was wrong due to their mental condition.
De Grood was accused of fatally stabbing the five victims on April 15, 2014 at a house-party celebrating the last day of classes.
He pleaded not guilty to five counts of first-degree murder on the first day of the trial, but admitted in a lengthy agreed statement of facts that he killed the five
Defence lawyer Allen Fay said that de Grood “lacked the ability to know his actions were morally wrong.”
De Grood was committed under the Mental Health Act and housed at a psychiatric facility near Edmonton following the killings.
Three independent psychiatric experts who evaluated de Grood following the killings testified throughout the trial that he showed heavy signs of schizophrenia and that he was likely in a state of psychosis the night of the stabbings.
“At the time of the index offences, my professional opinion is that he likely suffered from schizophrenia,” Dr. Andrew Haag, a psychologist who assessed de Grood following the
killings, said in his testimony.
All 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.