The man facing charges of first-degree murder in Calgary’s worst mass killing will remain in an Edmonton psychiatric hospital for three more weeks because a report into his mental state at the time of the attacks has taken longer than expected to complete.
Matthew de Grood, accused in the stabbing deaths of five young people at a house party in April, appeared in court on Thursday via closed-circuit TV following a 30-day psychiatric evaluation. A doctor has finished the assessment to determine if he meets the criteria for being deemed criminally responsible for the killings, but has not completed the report, court heard.
Mr. de Grood, 22, will remain at Alberta Hospital in Edmonton until Sept. 19, when he will be transported back to the Calgary forensic psychiatric facility, where he has been in custody for most of the time since his arrest. He is due back in court for a proceeding to consider the report on Sept. 26.
Dressed in an orange jumpsuit, he said nothing while in the TV booth at the Edmonton Remand Centre, at times rocking side to side as he listened to the proceedings.
Neil Wiberg, the prosecutor in the case, said the delay is not an indication of anything unusual following the assessment, which included a series of psychological tests as well as interviews with Mr. de Grood’s parents.
“It’s just the caseload the hospital will have, and the material they have to consider,” Mr. Wiberg told reporters.
The crime was one of the country’s most gruesome mass attacks, allegedly carried out by a young man who by all accounts had previously shown no tendencies toward violence.
The victims were at an end-of-school celebration at a rented house near the University of Calgary when, according to police, the suspect grabbed a knife and attacked party-goers before fleeing. Jordan Segura, 22; Kaiti Perras, 23; Josh Hunter, 23; Zackariah Rathwell, 21; and Lawrence Hong, 27; were just embarking on their chosen career paths.
Mr. Wiberg said the psychiatric report will be “opinion evidence from one witness.” It will be weighed in Mr. de Grood’s eventual trial.
“At the end of the day, the judge or the jury has the final say in determining issues such as this,” he said.
A preliminary hearing is set for early next March.
Mr. de Grood, the son of a veteran Calgary police officer, has already been found mentally fit to stand trial, meaning that he has the ability to instruct his lawyer and deal with the rigours of such a proceeding.
Allan Fay, Mr. De Grood’s lawyer, said his client “seems to be doing all right, as well as one can expect under the circumstances.”
Doug and Susan de Grood, the accused’s parents, have been in Edmonton to visit with their son several times over the past 30 days, Mr. Fay said.
A judge ruled that Mr. de Grood is to return to a Calgary forensic psychiatry facility on Sept. 19 and will appear in court next on Sept. 26.