A Calgary man has been found not criminally responsible for stabbing five young people to death at a house party two years ago in a ruling that gives family members of the victims little closure.
Justice Eric Macklin of Court of Queen's Bench delivered the verdict Wednesday in the first-degree murder trial of Matthew de Grood.
Macklin said he accepted findings from two psychiatrists and a psychologist who testified that de Grood was psychotic at the time of the killings.
"I find on a balance of probabilities that at the time he caused their deaths, Matthew de Grood was suffering from a mental disorder that rendered him incapable of appreciating or knowing that his actions were wrong," Macklin said.
The finding means de Grood will be kept in a secure psychiatric facility pending assessment by the Alberta Review Board. A hearing is to take place in 90 days.
Prosecutor Neil Wiberg said the Crown is considering seeking a high-risk designation for de Grood.
"This is the most serious crime anyone can commit. It's five counts of first-degree murder," Wiberg told reporters.
He added a high-risk designation would also be appropriate because de Grood was sober at the time and the psychosis came on rapidly.
A high-risk a designation would mean the accused would be held in hospital and not released until a court revoked that status. As well, it could entail three years instead of one year between reviews and the denial of unescorted passes into the community.
The 24-year-old son of a police officer admits he killed five people at a Calgary house party on April 15, 2014.
The trial heard de Grood became withdrawn about a month before the attack and started posting about the end of the world, religion, vampires and Darth Vader on Facebook.
De Grood reported hearing voices telling him to kill before he grabbed a knife from a kitchen in the northwest Calgary home and stabbed the victims.
Kaitlin Perras, 23; Lawrence Hong, 27; Josh Hunter, 23; Zackariah Rathwell, 21; and Jordan Segura, 22, were killed.
The victim's families said the not criminally responsible ruling will be a recurring nightmare for them.
"The end of this trial is not the end of this journey for us. We continue to be broken," Miles Hong said on behalf of the families outside court.
"There will be no peace for us — our wounds never fully heal because every year our families will have to wonder, what will be the fate of the man who damaged so many lives?"
The families said they want Canadians to become informed about the justice system and the implications of the "not criminally responsible" designation.
Gregg Perras, Kaitlin's father, said he understands that mental health issues have to be taken into account.
"We're 100 per cent behind the Crown going after a high-risk designation," he told reporters.
"Someone who kills five people and falls into psychosis within a matter of weeks, that's very likely someone who should fall under that designation."
Defence lawyer Allan Fay read a statement on behalf of de Grood in court as it was too overwhelming for his client to read himself.
Fay's voice cracked with emotion as he delivered the statement and family members who had sat stoically as the judge read his verdict began to openly sob.
"I am truly and deeply sorry for this. I never intended for anything like this to happen. I feel the sorrow I have caused and will carry it for the rest of my life," de Grood said in his statement.
De Grood said he takes responsibility for his illness.
"I will control it by faithfully taking my medication and managing potential stressors. I will follow doctor's orders for the rest of my life."
De Grood's parents accept the judge's decision.
"We will continue to walk by our son's side as together we travel the long and painful road ahead of us. Today is not the end of this tragic nightmare. We live with it every day," Doug de Grood said outside court alongside his wife Susan.
"As we move forward, we will continue to keep the victims and their families in our prayers and hope that time will eventually begin to heal their pain and suffering."