Tearful response from victims' families at Matthew de Grood's review hearing
Family members of the five people killed at a house party in northwest Calgary in 2014 expressed their ongoing grief at Matthew de Grood's review hearing.
De Grood was found not criminally responsible for killing Zackariah Rathwell, 21; Jordan Segura, 22; Josh Hunter, 23; Kaitlin Perras, 23, and Lawrence Hong, 27, at a house party in Brentwood on April 15, 2014.
At the hearing, Rhonda-Lee Rathwell described how she thinks of how her son Zack was stabbed to death every time she uses a kitchen knife.
In a written statement, the families asserted their opposition to any form of release for de Grood.
“We see no reason for de Grood to ever be conditionally released from a secure facility to ensure our and the greater public’s need for safety. Under the current laws, public safety is paramount in this process,” the statement read.
Since the judge made the ruling last year, de Grood has been held at a secure mental health facility where he has been receiving treatment.
Each year, the Alberta Review Board can decide to keep de Grood in the facility, allow him back into the community under certain conditions or grant him an absolute discharge.
Dr. Sergio Santana, one of the doctors de Grood has been seeing at the facility, said he has been treated with anti-depressants and anti-psychotics but has had no negative interactions with any of the staff during his stay.
Santana also said that de Grood has issues with PTSD, nightmares and anxiety but he is 'responding well' to treatment and is considered to be in 'full remission' from his mental issues.
He told the hearing that de Grood is a 'model patient' who has a very low risk of violent recidivism in a controlled environment but will need to remain on anti-psychotic medication for the rest of his life.
If de Grood failed to take his medication, Santana told the hearing that he would relapse and would end up being 'very dangerous'.
He said that de Grood would become delusional and respond to hallucinations as if they were real.
Santana said his plan is to continue his medication schedule and psychiatric education, with a movement towards exposing him to the stressers that may have had an impact on his schizophrenia.
He is seeking two privileges from the board at this point; supervised walks around the hospital grounds and supervised visits to Calgary for medical appointments.
Gregg Perras, the father of Kaiti, says he never wants to see de Grood free.
“We believe he falls under the small percent, the one percent that shows the extreme violence they are capable of when they’re unmedicated. So we don’t ever want to see him out of hospital grounds.”
The victims' family members criticized the review process, saying the annual task of going to hearings is an emotionally gruelling task, especially so close to the anniversary date of the attack.
"That scab has come back, I'm back at the same place where we were when we lost Zack. The pain, the confusion, it's all here again and it's like no time has gone by. I'm lost and I'm hurting," said Rhonda-Lee Rathwell.
Allan Fay, De Grood's lawyer, read a statement at the hearing on his client's behalf in which de Grood apologized to the families and said this isn't something he would have done if he wasn't mentally ill.
The Crown says it is still considering pursuing a high-risk NCR designation for de Grood.
That would increase the duration of the review hearings to every three years instead of on an annual basis.
His lawyer says his client shouldn’t be considered for that because he has been responding well to treatment.
However, he isn't seeking an unconditional release at this time.
The board must now consider recommendations on the privileges de Grood is asking for, a decision the should happen in a matter of weeks.