Allan Schoenborn stayed calm Thursday under intense questioning by a Crown lawyer when she used the term "child killer" and asked if he would have trouble controlling his anger if confronted in public.
"That's where I try to take it to my head, rather than my heart," Schoenborn replied. "If that happens I come back down and disengage."
Schoenborn, 47, has requested permission to leave the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital, east of Vancouver, to "take in a coffee and a walk" five years after he was found not criminally responsible for killing his children on account of a mental disorder.
A B.C. Review Board reserved its decision after four days of hearings, departing from the usual half-day process, as Crown lawyer Wendy Dawson urged the panel to recognize its obligation under new federal legislation.
Dawson said the three-member tribunal must heed Bill C-14, which gives the board new powers to lock up mentally ill offenders indefinitely if a court agrees they are "high risk."
She argued the new laws significantly change how a board must make its decision by putting heightened emphasis on public safety.
"To carry on with the old procedures … is to ignore the intent of Parliament," Dawson said.
A judge found Schoenborn was suffering psychosis when he stabbed his 10-year-old daughter and smothered his two sons, who were eight and five, in their Merritt, B.C., home.
Schoenborn was arrested after a 10-day manhunt in April 2008.
Both the hospital's director and Schoenborn's psychiatrist have recommended giving him permission for short, highly supervised trips into the community, arguing that will help his rehabilitation.
They agreed he still poses a significant threat to the public, but contend that community safety has always been their No. 1 priority when developing plans, the hospital's lawyer, Debbie Levitt, said in her closing submissions.
Levitt added that Schoenborn has been assessed at a low risk of trying to escape and that he's been involved in 11 incidents of verbal or physical aggression over the past year.
Schoenborn told the panel he wouldn't fight back if confronted in the community by someone who may recognize him.
"It hasn't been put to the test, but it's been drilled in me a lot," Schoenborn said while being questioned by Dawson for over an hour.
He now wears black-rimmed glasses and appears much heavier than the thin, sallow man who escaped into dense B.C. forest after the murders.
Schoenborn said he has had a chance to learn about himself through treatment though he knows that outings would only be the next step in his recovery.
"It's a chance for us to put the hospital behind us for a day and get out in the community and enjoy life."
Outside the hearing, the children's uncle said he hopes the board grants the family's request to give them 48 hours' notice before any outing.
"I worry that I'm going to have the RCMP knock on my door telling me that I have a dead sister now," said Michael Clarke of the children's mother, Darcie Clarke.
The common-law couple was estranged when Schoenborn killed their children.
If the board grants him permission for escorted release, the final day-to-day decision to allow outings will rest with the hospital director.
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