In another example where the family had sought help, Steven Heer has been found Not Criminally Responsible for killing his father by driving into him and stomping his head because he thought he was possessed by a demon.
Steven Heer, 28, had been charged with second-degree murder in the Aug. 18, 2011, death of 59-year-old Mohan Heer, however a judge has ruled that he was not guilty as a result of his suffering from a major mental disorder. Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Michelle Crighton also accepted that Steven Heer had believed he was doing what he thought was right by “displacing the demons that had taken over his father and members of his family.”
Psychiatrist Vijay Singh testified Heer has been diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic and said, at the time of the killing, he was suffering hallucinations, hearing voices in his head and believed his life was in jeopardy. “He believed he had instructions from God,” said Singh, adding that Heer had earlier heard the voice of God telling him of a war between a good god and a bad god. “He had a strong belief that his father was possessed and believed he had to do something to cast out the devil that had possessed his father,” said Singh.
In a second report, psychiatrist William Friend said Heer also believed that the demon possessing his father was going to torture and kill him and take his soul. As well, Heer said the devil had appeared in the SUV he was operating and took control of the vehicle.
According to agreed facts, Heer had been arguing with his father when they returned to their Riverbend home after a short drive about 9 p.m. on Aug. 18, 2011. As the dad exited to open the garage door, his son accelerated and struck him with the Nissan Pathfinder. Then, as the victim made his way to the front of the home, his son drove into him again, pinning him to the stairs.
The victim’s wife and two daughters ran outside to intervene and, as the wife was holding her husband, Heer reversed and then accelerated forward and struck his father again. He then ran out and began kicking and stomping his father in the head while shouting. As family and friends began giving medical assistance, Heer went inside and changed and then drove off. He was found later near the High Level Bridge and arrested. The cause of death was multiple blunt traumas.
After ruling Heer was not criminally responsible, Crighton remanded him into custody at Alberta Hospital and ordered that he appear before the Alberta Review Board for a disposition hearing within the next 45 days.
Defence lawyer Brian Hurley said the family of Heer – a respected home builder who was well-liked among the city’s large Sikh community – is upset that their earlier cries for psychiatric help were unanswered.
“The family saw the deterioration in his mental health and tried to get him help and the system couldn’t get it for him,” said Hurley. “And, obviously, a horrendously tragic result occurred.”