CALGARY — A Calgary man has been found not criminally responsible for killing five people in a stabbing rampage.
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 psychiatric experts who testified that de Grood did not appreciate his actions were morally wrong.
"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.
Family members of the Calgary stabbing victims leave court after the judge's decision to find Matthew de Grood not criminally responsible. (Photo: Jeff McIntosh/CP)
The finding means de Grood will be kept in a secure psychiatric facility pending assessment by the Alberta Review Board.
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.
A high-risk designation would also be appropriate because de Grood was sober at the time of the murders and the psychosis came on rapidly.
"Matthew de Grood was suffering from a mental disorder that rendered him incapable of appreciating or knowing that his actions were wrong."
Among other things, a high-risk a designation would mean the accused would be held in hospital and not be released until a court revoked that status. As well, it could entail longer periods 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The trial heard de Grood became withdrawn about a month before the attack and started posting about the end of the world, religion, vampires and Darth Vader on Facebook.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 to death.
Kaitlin Perras, 23; Lawrence Hong, 27; Josh Hunter, 23; Zackariah Rathwell, 21; and Jordan Segura, 22, were killed.
Miles Hong, victim Lawrence Hong's brother, reads a statement on behalf of the immediate family members of Lawrence Hong, Joshua Hunter, Kaiti Perras, Zackariah Rathwell and Jordan Segura, following a court decision in Calgary. (Photo: Jeff McIntosh/CP)
The victim's families said the ruling that de Grood is not criminally responsible 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.
"In this system Matthew de Grood will meet with a mental health review board every year to determine if he will be granted concessions.
"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?''
"There will be no peace for us — our wounds never fully heal."
The families said they want Canadians to become informed about the justice system and the implications of the "not criminally responsible'' designation.
"Every year we will be forced to relive details of our family's deaths, the anguish and sorrow,'' he said.
Matthew de Grood was charged with first-degree murder. (Photo: Facebook)
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 read 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.''