CALGARY – The man accused in Calgary’s worst mass murder is to undergo a 30-day assessment to determine whether he is mentally fit to stand trial for first-degree murder.
Matthew de Grood, 22, was charged last week after five young people were stabbed to death at a house party that was being held to mark the end of the school year.
De Grood was wearing blue coveralls when he appeared in court Tuesday via closed-circuit television. He could be seen leaning against a wall and occasionally touching his face, which had cuts and scrapes from when he was taken down by the canine unit during his arrest.
De Grood, the son of a senior Calgary police officer, only spoke once, replying “Yes, sir” when Judge Jim Ogle asked if de Grood could see and hear him.
The accused is to return to court May 22. He will continue to be held at the Southern Alberta Forensic Psychiatry Centre, where he’s been since his arrest.
The Crown requested the assessment on the recommendation of a doctor who has been dealing with de Grood.
“The case has been adjourned for a period of 30 days to allow a psychiatrist to assess whether or not the accused is fit to stand trial,” Crown prosecutor Stephanie Brown told reporters.
“The investigation is still ongoing, so we’re unable to provide any further comment on the case at this time. But the family members of the victims will remain updated and we’ll be meeting with them in the coming days.”
Jordan Segura, Kaiti Perras, Josh Hunter, Zackariah Rathwell and Lawrence Hong were all at the party April 15 when they were killed.
De Grood’s lawyer, Allan Fay, said he’s not ruling out an argument of not criminally responsible as a defence.
“I’d be foolish to overlook any possibility, especially in a case that on its face is as bizarre as this,” Fay said outside court.
“We’ve never seen anything like it in Calgary, and one can’t help but look at the case and consider what we know so far and how strange this whole thing is.”
Fay said he’s met with de Grood three or four times and his client is doing as well as one would expect under the circumstances. He said he’s “obviously apprehensive and concerned but he seems to be holding up.”
He acknowledged it’s going to be a tough case for everyone.
“Any homicide is difficult. A homicide this magnified is going to be very difficult … not only from a logistical point of view, but just the emotional toll it’s going to take on everybody involved,” Fay said.
“It’s a horrendous case and it’s touched so many lives.”
De Grood’s court appearance Tuesday came the same day as the funeral for Rathwell, a promising musician with the band Zackariah and the Prophets.
Three funerals were held Monday for Segura, Perras and Rathwell’s bandmate Hunter. A service for Hong is scheduled for Wednesday.