Matthew de Grood pleads not guilty to Brentwood house party homicides
The trial for a man charged with multiple counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of five young people two years ago is underway and family and friends of the victims packed into the courtroom for the proceedings.
Matthew de Grood, 24, is charged with killing Joshua Hunter, Lawrence Hong, Zackariah Rathwell, Kaiti Perras and Jordan Segura on April 15, 2014.
The victims were celebrating the end of the school year with friends at a home on Butler Crescent NW when they were stabbed.
Three of the victims were found dead inside the home and the other two died later in hospital.
De Grood was arrested a short time later and charged in the deaths of all five.
During a preliminary hearing, the judge ruled there was enough evidence for de Grood to stand trial and a prosecutor has been brought in from Edmonton to try the case, which will be heard by Justice Eric Macklin.
*Warning: This story contains graphic details that some readers may find disturbing.*
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On Monday, family and friends of the victims packed the courtroom on the first day of the trial.
Allan Fay, de Grood’s lawyer, entered a not guilty plea to all five counts of first-degree murder on behalf of his client but in an agreed statement of facts, de Grood admitted to killing the five students.
Crown prosecutor, Neil Wiberg, told the court that de Grood was using cocaine and ecstasy in Grade 11 and that he had no reported mental health issues before the offences.
Court also heard that de Grood began posting strange comments on social media about politics and religion in the days before the murders.
The Crown presented graphic details of the murders in court and said that the stabbings happened quickly. The five victims were stabbed a total of 21 times and all were stabbed in the upper body.
“The police service did an excellent investigation so when the defence and the Crown looked at the investigation there was no doubt as to what took place and so that’s why we used an agreed statement of facts because there was no doubt, no differences in what happened so using various statements that were given, it describes what happened inside that house, that one individual was killed first and then the others were killed in very rapid succession afterwards, it took a matter of seconds,” said Wiberg.
In an agreed statement of facts, de Grood said that "I just want to say that when I stabbed them I tried to do it mercifully. I aimed for their heart. They put up a struggle, which made it hard, but so you know it wasn't sadistic or anything."
After he was arrested and taken to Rockyvew Hospital, de Grood told officers that he believed "killing people in self defence is just and fair" and that he was an alien and was born in an incubator and believed he was killing Medusas and werewolves for the son of God.
According to the statement he told officers "I don't feel bad for doing what I had to do because it's justice and I was being controlled" and that he "wanted to be sober tonight so it wasn't a Ted Bundy thing blaming it on alcohol."
He is also quoted as saying that he "left work early cause I thought I was going to die" and that he "tried to punch a cop in the face so he would shoot me."
De Grood also told officers he wanted the cheapest and worst public defender and that "I know I said I wanted a lawyer and I said that cause that's just what you're supposed to say, but I figure I haven't done anything I feel is wrong then I'm just going to tell you guys everything", according to the statement of facts.
The trial is scheduled for two weeks but lawyers say they expect to wrap it up sooner.
For the latest on the de Grood trial, follow Ina Sidhu on Twitter.
With files from The Canadian Press, CTV Alberta Bureau Chief Janet Dirks, and CTV Calgary’s Ina Sidhu
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