04/17/2014 11:07 EDT | Updated 06/17/2014 05:59 EDT

Matthew de Grood, Calgary Stabbing Suspect, Understands Charges, Lawyer Says

Matthew de Grood, the 22-year-old accused of stabbing five people to death earlier this week in Calgary, is overwhelmed but understands the charges he's facing, his lawyer says.

Defence lawyer Allan Fay told CBC’s Calgary Eyeopener that his client, who is being held at a secure psychiatric facility adjacent to the Calgary Remand Centre, is lucid.

“We had a conversation. I'm not trained in that area but I didn't see anything that caused me undo alarm. Having said that, he's quite overwhelmed, extremely fearful and distraught I think,” Fay said.  

"And I think that affects his reactions and that sort of thing. But, from my discussions, I'm fully confident that he is aware of the magnitude of what's going on here."  

De Grood is charged with five counts of first-degree murder in the slayings of four men and a woman at a house in Brentwood in the city’s northwest early Tuesday morning.

Fay refused to comment about speculation by others regarding de Grood's mental health.

Police Chief Rick Hanson told CBC News on Wednesday he expects the accused will be ordered by the court to undergo a psychological assessment — a common occurrence in high-profile homicide cases.

But Fay said it’s his understanding there have been no past indications of mental-health problems with de Grood.

“I’m not aware of any history of mental illness on Matthew’s part,” he said.

Case against de Grood could take years

Fay said he is trying to arrange for de Grood’s parents to visit him.

De Grood’s father, a veteran member of the Calgary Police Service, is very distraught over the killings his son is accused of committing, Fay said.

“He, better than most people, understands what can happen from here,” Fay said.

Fay said he expects the case against his client will proceed very slowly, beginning with a lengthy preliminary inquiry, followed by jury selection and finally a trial in the Court of Queen’s Bench.

“I would be surprised if it’s not years,” he said.

Fay said at this point he has not even spoken with his client about the allegations, only procedural matters. 

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