Annesair Balkaran killed her mother Zaniffa but Not Criminally Responsible

Toronto police officers checking on a domestic violence complaint made a horrifying discovery on Jan. 7, 2011, after they knocked on the door of an east-end apartment where loud music was playing. “I want to show you something,” said Annesair Balkaran, then 20, who let them inside.
Face-down on the living room floor, surrounded by blood, was the body of her mother, Zaniffa Balkaran, 59.

Ontario Superior Court Justice Ian Nordheimer has declared Balkaran, now 22, not criminally responsible for the gruesome murder because she suffers from schizophrenia, depriving her of the ability to appreciate the nature of her actions.

Her lawyer, Andrew Vaughan, entered her plea of not guilty to second-degree murder, reduced from first. A collision of factors led to the grisly killing, said Vaughan. Crown Attorney Paul Amenta, citing a psychiatrist’s report, catalogued Balkaran’s lengthy mental health history, extended hospitalization and troubled relationships with her mother and boyfriend, which often resulted in run-ins with police.

Balkaran had previously threatened to kill other family members, who were so concerned they removed knives from her mother’s apartment. Her mother called 911 after Balkaran suggested she was “on a mission from God and her family has to die.”

Balkaran endured a “nightmarish” childhood in Trinidad after her father died and her mother moved to Canada. She was kidnapped and physically and sexually abused before she was reunited with her mother at age 9. Poor and isolated, Zaniffa struggled to deal with the deeply troubled teenager — she was paranoid, heard voices and was suicidal — and the two frequently clashed. In her later teens, as her mental health deteriorated, she frequently moved back and forth between her mother’s and boyfriend’s residences, and shelters.

In September 2010, Balkaran, then pregnant, was taken to emergency at the Rouge Valley Health Centre after she was found screaming in the street. But, as she did on other occasions when hospitalized, she played down mental health issues and was released.

Three days later, she was admitted to hospital involuntarily, under the Mental Health Act, after a series of bizarre episodes. She was transferred to a shelter, where she stopped taking anti-psychotic medication fearing it would harm her unborn child.On Christmas Day 2010, Balkaran delivered a baby girl at Scarborough General Hospital and the infant was immediately apprehended by Children’s Aid Society.

Balkaran was discharged three days later but there was no follow-up counselling or support after a prolonged period of not receiving the medication she “desperately” required, Amenta told court. “The system may have fallen through,” agreed Vaughan.

A hearing will be held to determine where Balkaran will be held pending an assessment by the Ontario Review Board.–schizophrenic-declared-not-criminally-responsible-in-mother-s-murder

Lafleur knew she was killing Audrey Napper

Linda Lafleur knew she was killing Audrey Napper when she struck at her with a knife in May of 2009, but her mental illness prevented her from realizing it was morally wrong, Superior Court Justice David Salmers concluded after a hearing in Oshawa Tuesday. “It is very clear … Ms. Lafleur was not thinking rationally when she killed Ms. Napper,” Justice Salmers said in his ruling.

Ms. Lafleur, 63, readily admitted she killed Ms. Napper, 61, in the Celina Street home they shared, telling a Durham homicide detective she’d been justified in doing so. Ms. Lafleur, who is schizophrenic, believed the victim was murdering children, court heard.

Ms. Lafleur believes she is a member of the royal family who was given permission to commit the murder by U.S. President Barack Obama, court heard. Addressing the court Tuesday, Ms. Lafleur insisted she had been granted indemnity in the killing.

“I was found innocent,” Ms. Lafleur, sitting in a wheelchair and breathing with the aid of an oxygen pump, declared. “I should be found innocent again.”

Prosecutor John Pollard and defence lawyer John Olver both recommended Ms. Lafleur be found not criminally responsible for the murder, and that the Ontario Review Board, which reviews the status of those declared NCR, determine how best to manage her in the future.

“We concede on the balance of probabilities that Ms. Lafleur did not know that what she was doing was wrong,” said Mr. Pollard, adding Ms. Lafleur’s illness “predisposed her to the act.”

Dr. Karen De Freitas, a forensic psychiatrist at Ontario Shores, said Ms. Lafleur continues to present a threat to others. “She remains psychotic and she remains a danger to the public,” she said.

Ms. Lafleur was ordered held at the Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences in Whitby until the Ontario Review Board rules on a future course of treatment for her.

Family of man found NCR question treatment facility.

A schizophrenic man found not criminally responsible for fatally stabbing his stepfather, 59-year-old Michael Madsen, 26 times on Sept. 11, 2008, will remain behind double-locked doors at the Ottawa Royal Mental Health Center following the adjournment of a Ontario Review Board hearing deciding his future.

Jonathan Madsen, 43, had previously attempted to kill his stepfather because he believed, based on the delusions he suffered, that Michael’s death would lift a curse he feared would bring about the end of the world. He was found not criminally responsible for this prior incident.

In her July decision, Superior Court Justice Johanne Lafrance-Cardinal, pointed out that, that before Madsen’s release from the Brockville unit of the Royal Ottawa hospital in early September 2008, he was “able to convince the Ontario Review Board that he was doing well and was taking his prescribed medication. He was obviously not,” Lafrance-Cardinal said. “He made statements to Dr. Chaimowitz that further work needs to be done to get rid of the curse.”

Crown attorney Roberts said Madsen’s mother, Emily, “has a mistrust of the clinical team in Brockville. She’s concerned about their ability to judge Mr. Madsen’s state and that they might recommend he be transferred back into the community,” Roberts said.

Roberts explained the family isn’t worried about Madsen visiting them in Cornwall over the next year, which he was prone to do in the past, but they are concerned about what happens after Madsen’s review a year later, when the restrictions on him could be looser.

The family, Roberts said, would prefer Madsen be taken on by a new clinical team with “a fresh set of eyes” and no experience working with him.

Madsen’s lawyer, Michael Davies, requested an adjournment of Tuesday’s ORB meeting for a few months while he and doctors responsible for his client’s treatment could look into alternative facilities to the Brockville unit of the hospital. “We’re in agreement with detention in a medium security unit, but which one?”

Ottawa Royal Mental Health Centre staff have recommended the Brockville unit of the hospital. In late October, the ORB panel will reconvene.