CALGARY — Matthew de Grood could remain in a secure psychiatric facility for years or indefinitely if he is found not criminally responsible for the deaths of five young people at a house party in Calgary two years ago.
The 24-year-old is nearing the end of a trial on five counts of first-degree murder.
He reported hearing voices telling him to kill and believed the end of the world was coming before he grabbed a knife from a kitchen in the northwest Calgary home and stabbed the victims to death.
Killed in the attack were Kaitlin Perras, 23; Lawrence Hong, 27; Josh Hunter, 23; Zackariah Rathwell, 21; and Jordan Segura, 22.
Two psychiatrists testified Wednesday they believed de Grood had suffered a psychotic break and was likely suffering from schizophrenia.
“He was not in touch with reality. It appears he was suffering different categories of delusions,” said Dr. Lenka Zedkova, a psychiatrist at Alberta Hospital Edmonton.
“My opinion was he did not know what he was doing was morally wrong,” she said.
A psychiatric review determined de Grood was fit to stand trial, because he understands the charges against him and is able to communicate with his lawyer.
If the defence succeeds in having de Grood declared not criminally responsible because of a mental disorder, his release back into the public is not guaranteed.
Dr. Alberto Choy, the director of forensic psychiatry at Alberta Hospital Edmonton, said individuals declared NCR are fully assessed within 45 days of being committed.
“The review board tries to determine whether he represents a significant threat and then try to determine a treatment plan…that both manages his risk, the safety of the community,” Choy said.
“If a person remains a significant threat year after year when they’re reviewed by the review board then they will remain under the jurisdiction of the review board.”
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Choy said any release back into the public is done gradually and some who are allowed to live in the community can remain under supervision for years or even decades.
He also said the rate of recidivism for those released from psychiatric communities tends to be lower than an individual released from a regular correctional facility.
Zedkova said de Grood has shown some improvement since treatment but there is no guarantee he will fully recover.
Related reading: Statement from father of Matthew de Grood in April 2014
“The general notion is about one-third of people get better and have symptoms that are well-controlled. One-third of people remain at a steady level and a third of people are really treatment resistant,” she testified.
De Grood’s lawyer, Allan Fay, said his client has been receiving treatment since his arrest and realizes what happened two years ago.
“He’s been medicated to the point that he is no longer delusional and that’s the difference,” said Fay.
“At the time this happened he was delusional. His psychosis was to the extent his view of reality was distorted but thanks to the medications he’s received and the treatment he’s received he now appreciates reality and what was happening.”