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Psychiatric assessment ordered for mother accused in death of disabled daughter
Published Friday, September 8, 2017 5:28PM MDT
Last Updated Friday, September 8, 2017 7:30PM MDT
A Calgary judge has ordered a psychiatric assessment for a woman who is charged with criminal negligence in the 2016 death of her daughter.
Patricia Couture, 70, was charged after her daughter, Melissa, was found dead in the family’s Woodbine area home on April 26.
Melissa, 38, had cerebral palsy and suffered from severe mental and physical disabilities, including hearing loss, visual impairment and stiffness in her extremities.
Her mother was her primary caregiver after a divorce in 1998 and court heard that Melissa weighed just 23 kilograms when she died.
Melissa’s father, Bryan, testified at the trial on Thursday and told the court that he saw his daughter’s health deteriorating in the months before she died.
He said that when he decided to remove Melissa from her mother’s home to get help, it was already too late.
On Friday, Patricia testified in her own defence and spoke of external forces and spirits haunting her home.
She cited religious scripture and said she used her belief in God to protect her daughter.
Couture claimed she heard Melissa coughing and knew something was wrong so she called 911.
She said that she didn’t realize how much her daughter’s health had deteriorated and admitted that she had not seen a doctor in four years but she couldn’t say why.
The judge in the case said there is evidence of possible delusions and ordered Couture to undergo an assessment.
“The code provides for a situation where a person cannot be found criminally responsible for their actions if indeed they are not responsive to the outside world, responsive, and here, I think the evidence is quite clear that my client for a period of time had been laboring under what I think as a layman as delusions or, you know, an intense religious fervor, in addition to feeling attacked by extraneous factors from the neighbourhood and things like that,” said defence attorney Andre Ouellette.
The case will return to court in November.