A man charged with killing two men in Nova Scotia six years ago pleaded guilty Monday to first- and second-degree murder, but Glen Race's lawyer will argue at a provincial Supreme Court hearing in November that his client is not criminally responsible for the slayings.
Justice Kevin Coady did not enter convictions in the case Monday so that defence lawyer Joel Pink's application on the state of Race's mental health at the time of the murders can be heard over five days in November.
Both Pink and Crown attorney Paul Carver said outside court that they expect forensic psychiatrists from both sides will agree that Race was too mentally ill at the time of the stabbings to be found criminally responsible for his actions.
"It's anticipated the evidence will be unanimous on the issue," Carver said.
But he said the final decision on whether Race is not criminally responsible will be made by Coady after hearing the evidence.
Race, who has been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, was charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Michael Knott, 44, and Trevor Brewster, 45, in May 2007. Court heard both men were stabbed.
Knott's body was found on a wooded path in southwestern Nova Scotia on May 5, 2007, and Brewster's body was found four days later under a boardwalk at a lake in Halifax.
At the time, the deaths prompted a rare warning from police that people should use caution in areas where gay men cruise for sex.
A manhunt for Race after the deaths of the two men in Nova Scotia, and another man in New York state, ended in Texas on May 15, 2007, as Race tried to cross the U.S. border into Mexico.
Race, 32, appeared in court Monday wearing baggy pants and was calm and attentive as he entered guilty pleas to first-degree murder in the death of Brewster and to second-degree murder in Knott's death.
His parents sat two rows behind him, observing the proceedings.
Pink said an agreed statement of facts will be read into the court record on Nov. 4 and the defence will then provide information on Race's psychiatric history between 2001 and 2010 in a separate statement.
"By entering the plea ... we have admitted to the acts themselves, and we were hoping that will bring some relief to the victims' family, knowing there will not be a trial," Pink said outside court.
Race has been remanded to the East Coast Forensic Hospital, where he has been receiving psychiatric treatment since his return to Canada.
He was extradited from the United States in October 2010 to face the charges in Nova Scotia after he was convicted of first-degree murder for the 2007 shooting death of Darcy Manor in New York. He was sentenced to life in prison with no eligibility for parole.
During his trial for Manor's slaying, the court heard Race crossed the border into the United States. He was arrested in Brownsville, Texas, several days after Manor's body was found. The prosecution alleged during the trial that Race shot Manor, 35, in the back at a secluded hunting lodge.
Pink and Carver said Race could face extradition to the United States 45 days after the matter is settled in Halifax to continue serving his life sentence.
However, Pink said if that happens he intends to consult with lawyers in New York to see if there are grounds for an appeal.
He argued the U.S. decision was "a miscarriage of justice" because Canadian psychiatrists have concluded Race was severely mentally ill at the time of the slayings.
"Right now we have six psychiatrists who all come to the same conclusion and I'm amazed why this was not raised in New York when the evidence was present," said Pink.
He said if Race is eventually sent to the United States, he expects he will be incarcerated at the state penitentiary in Attica, N.Y., where his treatment and medication would continue.