Raymond Taavel is dead. Ignoring those responsible doesn’t make them any less responsible.

Raymond Taavel is dead.  Andre Noel Denny, the man charged with murdering the well-known member of Halifax’s gay community,  was a resident of the East Coast Forensic Psychiatric Hospital who had left on an hour-long pass earlier that evening but didn’t return. Court documents show that Denny was troubled and delusional  and had a lengthy record of run-ins with the law. Diagnosed with schizophrenia in 1997, Denny also had a substance abuse problem according to Nova Scotia Supreme Court documents.

In September 2009, court papers reveal Denny was charged with causing “unnecessary injury” to a dog, possession of stolen property (the dog), uttering a death threat to his neighbors and breach of probation. Denny’s court testimony in relation to those charges was often “sprinkled with delusions,” a judge wrote in court papers in October 2009.

Andre Noel Denny was also arrested after a seven-hour standoff at Membertou in 2011. That time he was charged with aggravated sexual assault of a woman, uttering threats and unlawfully confining her.

The extent of Denny’s mental illness was outlined in court proceedings related to the September 2009 crimes at Eskasoni.

Dr. Foley of the Cape Breton Regional Hospital  conducted preliminary assessment shortly after arrest. Dr. Foley believed Mr. Denny to be “grossly psychotic” at that time. Dr. Kronfli saw Mr. Denny just days afterwards and, with the benefit of this clinical history and his own observations and assessment, concluded that Mr. Denny was not criminally responsible for what he had done.

The psychiatrist later found his condition had improved after treatment at the East Coast Forensic Hospital in Dartmouth. By the late fall of 2009, it was determined he was fit to stand trial but was found not criminally responsible.  At this hearing the defense argued that the defendant was in control of his senses while the crown held that Denny should be found NCR and committed.

Judge Peter Ross described a gruesome threat Denny had made to his Eskasoni neighbors. Denny had been living next to them in a trailer for about a month. “He said he was going to ‘slice everyone’s throat’ when they were sleeping,” Denny also stole a three-month-old puppy and slit its throat. The dog was so badly injured that it had to be euthanized, court documents show. Denny told his doctor it was a “devil’s dog” and deemed his actions “part of my delusion,” the court papers said. Denny also testified that these statements were intended to manipulate his doctor  in order to secure medicine.

When a police officer saw him in Eskasoni on Sept. 2, she was concerned about his appearance as he was wearing gloves, a heavy jacket and a scarf across his face even though it was warm enough to wear shorts. “His presentation caused her such concern she put out a warning to other members who might come in contact with him,” the documents said.

According to other court documents, Denny also faced charges of resisting arrest and breaching an undertaking on Feb. 14, 2009. He was found responsible for this earlier incident.

Now Raymond Taavel’s life  has been cut short at the hands of Andre Noel Denny.  Whether or not Denny is again found Not Criminally Responsible for murdering Raymond is yet to be determined.  But Denny was not some unknown assailant walking the streets.  Denny was known to police, the courts, the mental health establishment… Denny was in their care and they were responsible to keep him from us!

So while the judicial system will ignore those responsible for this travesty, it does not make them any less responsible. We need a Tim’s Law for Tim. But we also need Tim’s Law for Raymond Taavel.

Much of this story and the research found in the content came from the dedicated staff at the Chronicle Herald in Halifax. The Chronicle Herald continues to provide updated coverage of the Raymond Taavel murder. The original story and details 

Adele Sorella, charged with killing daughters, awaits psychiatric assessment?

The case of a Laval woman charged with murdering her two young daughters three years ago will not go to trial until 2013, a Superior Court judge has decided. Adele Sorella, 46, has yet to be evaluated by a psychiatrist in preparation for a trial that is expected to last six to eight weeks, and remains free on bail.

During a hearing Sorella’s lawyer Pierre Poupart informed Justice André Vincent that he could not provide an estimate on when her psychiatric evaluation will be ready. Poupart, the lawyer who represented Guy Turcotte in a trial last year where the doctor was found not criminally responsible of killing his son and daughter, said he expected to be ready for a trial early in 2013.

Sorella was arrested April 1, 2009, after Laval police found the bodies of her two daughters, Sabrina, 8, and Amanda, 9, inside the family’s home in Laval’s Duvernay district.

Vincent said not having an evaluation on-hand complicated setting a trial schedule for this year because the prosecution might seek a second opinion after it is completed. “I can set a trial date today but if I do set aside six to eight weeks it could be for nothing. It could prevent other people from having trials (later this year),” Vincent said.

Sounding impatient, prosecutor Isabelle Briand noted that Sorella, who is out on bail, was arrested three years ago and the Crown has been ready to proceed with a trial since September 2011. She said the prosecution plans to present 25 witnesses in all.

Poupart also succeeded in having one of Sorella’s bail conditions changed to allow her to travel outside of Quebec. Poupart said the change was necessary to allow her to be evaluated by a psychiatrist based in Ontario.

Vincent set April 1, 2013 as the start of Sorella’s trial. This is ridiculous and makes a mockery of justice!

Whatever psychosis gripped Bouchard-Lebrun during the incident, was “self-induced”

The Supreme Court of Canada has clarified under which grounds an accused can use a defense of being in a psychotic state.  Quebec resident Tommy Bouchard-Lebrun  committed a vicious assault in October  of 2005, in Mont-Joli, Quebec. Bouchard-Lebrun then claimed he was in a psychotic state after voluntarily taking drugs

Bouchard-Lebrun pushed a man down some stairs, and stomped on his head several times. Bouchard-Lebrun argued that he had an underlying mental disorder that was triggered by the drug use, and therefore should be found not criminally responsible for the attack. A Quebec court found that whatever psychosis gripped Bouchard-Lebrun during the incident, it was “self-induced intoxication” and could not be used as an excuse for his actions.

On appeal, Bouchard-Lebrun argued the “self-induced intoxication” amounted to a “mental disorder” under the Criminal Code, but the Quebec Court of Appeal rejected his argument. It said in its 2010 ruling that the defense of mental disorder was not available to an accused suffering from psychosis induced by drug use in circumstances similar to those in Bouchard-Lebrun’s case.

Now the Supreme Court has dismissed the argument, saying Bouchard-Lebrun could not establish that he was suffering from an underlying mental disorder, since he returned to normal once the effects of the drugs ran their course. The court concluded:

“A malfunctioning of the mind that results exclusively from self-induced intoxication cannot be considered a disease of the mind in the legal sense, since it is not a product of the individual’s inherent psychological makeup,”

If everyone who committed a violent offense while in a toxic psychosis was found not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder, the judge said the scope of the defense would be too broad.

Second time a murder has occurred at Clifton T. Perkins Hospital… only in America maybe

Is it really possible to securely and safely release someone into the community, mere months after they brutally murder someone, as has happened in a number of recent cases in Canada?

For the second time in a little over a year a murder has occurred at Clifton T. Perkins Hospital, a maximum security facility for the criminally insane located in Jessup Maryland.

Twenty four year old Vitaly Davydov from Montgomery County has been charged with murder in the beating death of his roommate 22 year old David Rico-Noyola from Anne Arundel County. Vitaly who suffers from schizophrenia and bipolar disorder had been at the facility ever since he fatally beat his psychiatrist in his Bethesda office in September of 2006.

In 2007 Vitally was found not criminally responsible for the killing because of severe mental illness and was ordered to the hospital until he was determined to no longer be a threat to anyone.

David had been at the hospital since August of 2008 after the Department of Mental Health and Hygiene labeled him incompetent to stand trial for the beating death of his mother 48 year old Ofelia Noyola – Monrroy. He had been scheduled for another competency hearing next month.

This story may have happened in America but it is still a stark reminder of the challenges faced when treating persons with severe cases of mental illness. Some may argue that treatment methods vary between facilities and the severity of the mental illness can differ greatly between individuals. Valid point in some cases maybe.

It would be interesting to have a dialogue with individuals dealing with the mental health community. Hearing their concerns, and comments in regards to areas that are lacking in the Canadian Mental Health establishment is a place to start.

Etienne Beaulieu was treated in hospital just days before he killed his mother

On August 4, 2010, suffering from severe and intense delusions, Etienne Beaulieu believed that a young woman was trapped inside the body of his mother, 49-year-old Isabelle Robitaille. Etienne Beaulieu killed his mother to free that young woman the court has heard.

The agreed statement of facts that was presented to the court. The Crown is not contesting any of the evidence:

-The Court heard Beaulieu’s family had been concerned about the Etienne deteriorating mental health for months.

-Beaulieu was seeing a psychiatrist and spent a few days in the hospital at the end of July, just days before he attacked his mother.

-On Aug. 4, 2010, Beaulieu was home alone with his mother at their Bissonnette St. home. Beaulieu hit his mother twice over the head with a baseball bat, then dragged her down a set of stairs. Etienne Beaulieu stabbed his mother in the neck and the stomach.

-The rest of Beaulieu’s family, his father and sister, returned to the house at 6 p.m. and discovered the horrific scene.

-Robitaille, a French immersion teacher at Prince of Wales Public School, died of her injuries at the Peterborough Regional Health Centre.

Local press has stated ”Beaulieu’s defense team has argued his mental illness was so severe he could not comprehend the repercussions of his act.”

The outcome of this hearing is a foregone conclusion. Decided long before the judge hands down the decision she is bound to deliver, Etienne Beaulieu will be found “not criminally responsible” in the killing his mother.

Dr. Gary Chaimowitz, a psychiatrist who examined Beaulieu in May, testified that Beaulieu was suffering from intense and aggravating delusions that day, and in his deteriorating mental state, Beaulieu believed another person was trapped inside the body he saw in front of him. Chaimowitz also testified Beaulieu had a “major psychiatric disorder”, but didn’t offer a formal diagnosis to the court. He testified Beaulieu could be suffering from schizophrenia. His symptoms included paranoid and bizarre delusions including the illusion that he was being persecuted.

The psychiatrist believed Beaulieu had suffered from these delusions for years before the attack. That Beaulieu was unable to distinguish right from wrong that day. “His disorder was so intense, so active, he could not appreciate the consequences of his actions,” Chaimowitz testified.

Chaimowitz testified that although Beaulieu’s state has improved since arrest, and he continues to improve each day, he does still pose a risk to the community. Chaimowitz then adds the risk could be managed with treatment, hospitalization and supervision.

As has been so often in the past, the only argument clearly heard in the Whitby courtroom is that a family struggling with the effects of mental illness sought help. And as so often is the case, it is only after disaster has struck, and life has been forever altered, that a psychiatric community offers a message of hope. “The risk can be managed with treatment” they say.

If that is true, then what types of intervention and care should have been implemented before August 4, 2010. Society needs to question why treatments were not successful. Isabelle Robitaille is dead. Her family torn apart. Etienne Beaulieu is not criminally responsible. The cost is immeasurable, and yet nobody pays.

And the crown sits quietly, patting themselves on the back for a job well done.