POLITICS

List of prominent not criminally responsible cases

09/29/2014 07:12 EDT | Updated 11/29/2014 05:59 EST
The trial of Luka Rocco Magnotta took an unexpected turn Monday when defence lawyer Luc Leclair argued Magnotta was not criminally responsible when he killed Chinese exchange student Jun Lin in 2012. Leclair said his client has been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder and that there is a history of schizophrenia in his family. He said Magnotta "admitted the physical acts for each of the offences" but said the defence would be focusing on "the other part to each charge," the mental part. Quebec Superior Court Justice Guy Cournoyer said the task of jurors would be to determine Magnotta's state of mind at the time.

Here are some cases in which there was a finding of not criminally responsible or such a finding was sought:

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VINCENT LI

Vincent Li was sitting next to a sleeping Tim McLean aboard a Greyhound bus in Manitoba on July 30, 2008 when he suddenly started stabbing the young carnival worker. As the bus stopped and horrified passengers fled, Li cut up McLean's body and ate parts of it. Li told a mental-health advocate he heard the voice of God telling him McLean was an alien who he needed to destroy. Li was found not criminally responsible and was sent to the Selkirk Mental Health Centre. Li has seen his privileges expand slowly since his admission to the facility. He is currently allowed to make escorted, full-day trips into the community as well as to take unescorted walks on hospital grounds.

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ALLAN SCHOENBORN

In April 2008, Darcie Clarke returned to her home in Merritt, B.C., to find her two sons and daughter dead. Allan Schoenborn, her ex-husband, had killed their children: 10-year-old Kaitlynne, eight-year-old Max and five-year-old Cordon. He was diagnosed with delusional disorder and said he killed the children to protect them from an imagined threat of sexual abuse. Since he was found not criminally responsible, Schoenborn has been held in a psychiatric hospital in British Columbia. He has asked for a transfer to a hospital in Manitoba to be closer to his family. A panel approved the request, which is conditional on approval from the Attorneys General of both B.C. and Manitoba. He was still in British Columbia as of February 2014.

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GUY TURCOTTE

Guy Turcotte, a cardiologist in Quebec, was found not criminally responsible in 2011 in the 2009 stabbing deaths of his three-year-old daughter and five-year-old son. He was sent to a psychiatric hospital in Montreal and released in December 2012. An appeals court overturned the 2011 verdict in November 2013, and Turcotte is currently slated to stand trial a second time in September 2015. He is currently free on bail, though the Crown is appealing that decision.

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RICHARD KACHKAR

Richard Kachkar stole a snow plow in the early morning of Jan. 12, 2011 and in the middle of a two-hour rampage with it he hit and killed Toronto Police Sgt. Ryan Russell. Various witnesses heard him yell about the Taliban, Chinese technology and microchips. Psychiatrists concluded he was psychotic, but struggled with an exact diagnosis. He was found not criminally responsible and was ordered to be held in the secure unit of a mental health hospital near Toronto. The Ontario Review Board stirred controversy, however, by allowing Kachkar to take escorted trips into the community. The Crown unsuccessfully appealed that provision, and the board recently renewed Kachkar's right to sojourns beyond hospital grounds.

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GREGORY DESPRES

Gregory Despres killed his elderly neighbours in Minto, N.B., in 2005. He repeatedly stabbed Fred Fulton, 74, and Verna Decarie, 70, and decapitated Fulton. He was arrested in Massachusetts shortly after the bodies were discovered. A naturalized U.S. citizen, Despres had crossed the border the day before despite border guards finding him carrying a small arsenal including a chainsaw, a sword and brass knuckles. He told them he was an assassin on a military mission. Three psychiatrists diagnosed him with paranoid schizophrenia. He was found not criminally responsible in 2008. He is detained in a psychiatric facility inside the Dorchester Penitentiary.

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MILOSLAV KAPSIK

Miloslav Kapsik bludgeoned his wife to death with a hammer, hitting her more than 100 times while they were watching a hockey game in 2010. Court was told he had been hearing voices. Medical records showed the Winnipeg man was first diagnosed with severe depression in 2003. The defence argued he had a mental illness at the time and wasn't criminally responsible, but Kapsik was convicted in March of second-degree murder. He was sentenced to life in prison with no eligibility for parole for 10 years.

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ELAINE CAMPIONE

Elaine Campione drowned her daughters, Serena, 3, and Sophia, 19 months, in the bathtub in 2006 days before a family court hearing in the midst of a custody battle with her ex-husband. Court heard doctors had diagnosed the Barrie, Ont., woman as having unspecified psychosis with borderline personality traits, post-traumatic stress disorder from spousal abuse, depression and an eating disorder. She had spent time in psychiatric wards, attempted suicide and had delusions that people were trying to kill her and steal the girls. Her lawyer urged the jury to find her not criminally responsible, but the Crown successfully argued her mental illness didn't prevent her from knowing right from wrong. Campione was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison with no parole eligibility for 25 years.

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FRANCIS PROULX

Francis Proulx entered the home of Nancy Michaud, an aide to a Quebec cabinet minister, in 2008 and took her hostage while her two children slept. He took credit cards and banking information and shot her in the head. Proulx then had sex with her corpse. During his trial, he argued he was not criminally responsible because of a mental issue, saying he was on medication at the time of the crime. But he was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years. The Supreme Court of Canada refused to hear an appeal.

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GLEN RACE

Glen Race pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in the death of Trevor Brewster and second-degree murder in the slaying of Paul Michael Knott. According to an agreed statement of facts presented in court in November 2013, Race suffered from schizophrenia and was not taking his medicine in May 2007 when he lured the Halifax men to their deaths in separate incidents. The statement of facts alleged that Race believed he was a vampire slayer and a god-like entity at the time of the killings. Both the Crown and the defence recommended that Race should be found not criminally responsible, and the verdict was officially handed down in January.

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ALVIN BUCKWOLD

Alvin Buckwold was charged with second-degree murder after his father, Saskatoon lawyer Ian Buckwold, was found dead at the family cottage in July 2013. Alvin Buckwold was found not criminally responsible due to his schizophrenia in June and has been remanded to a mental health facility.

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NERLIN SARMIENTO

Nerlin Sarmiento told court she killed her seven-year-old son by drowning him in the bathtub in February 2013, but argued she was mentally ill at the time. A judge ultimately agreed with the defence arguments, accepting psychiatric assessment that said the 32-year-old Edmonton woman was in the throws of a serious depressive episode as part of her bipolar disorder. Doctors said Sarmiento believed she was sparing her son from a life of poverty and suffering when she killed him. She was found not criminally responsible in September 2013.

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