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Multiple murder suspect to undergo psychiatric exam

Canadian Press THE CANADIAN PRESS

CALGARY – The man charged in Calgary's worst mass murder has been transferred to a psychiatric facility.

Matthew de Grood, the son of a senior police officer, faces charges of first-degree murder after five university and college students were stabbed at a house party.

Lawyer Allan Fay says a justice of the peace ordered his client to receive a psychiatric assessment at the Southern Alberta Forensic Psychiatry Centre.

De Grood is to remain in custody there and is to next appear in court April 22.

Fay says his client is doing as well as can be expected and seems to be lucid.

A justice official says two Crown prosecutors from Edmonton have been assigned to the case to address any perceived conflict.

In an interview with AdvocateDaily.com, Toronto criminal lawyer John Rosen says the court will often order a psychiatric evaluation in instances where the accused may show signs of mental health issues after his/her arrest.

He says there are provisions in the Criminal Code of Canada that give the courts discretionary powers to order an assessment of the mental condition of an accused if the court has reasonable grounds to believe that the evidence is necessary to determine: whether the accused is fit to stand trial; whether the accused at the commission of the alleged offence was suffering from mental disorders so as to be exempt from criminal responsibility; or whether the mind of the accused was disturbed at the time of the alleged offence.

"What is reasonable grounds to believe?" the lawyer says. "It could be from the nature of the offence. You could also have some preliminary evidence about the crime."

Rosen, partner with Rosen Naster LLP, says the Crown and the defence each have the ability to ask the court to order a psychiatric evaluation. A judge may also order an assessment on his/her own motion, he says.

"And sometimes counsel will retain a psychiatrist to conduct an assessment under privilege, which means the results of the assessment are not available for anyone's use except the defence – unless and until the defence reveals the results of the assessment," he says.

Rosen also notes that any statements the accused may make in a court-ordered psychiatric assessment to a psychiatrist cannot be used to advance the Crown's case against the accused.

- With files from AdvocateDaily.com

© 2014 The Canadian Press

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