Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Revenge or Robotic State? Jury Deliberating in Eaton Centre Trial

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Revenge or Robotic State? Jury Deliberating in Eaton Centre Trial

Article excerpt

Jury deliberating in Eaton Centre trial


TORONTO - A jury began deliberations Tuesday to decide whether a man accused in a deadly shooting at a crowded Toronto mall was bent on revenge or suffering from a mental disorder severe enough to push him into a "robotic" state where he was incapable of appreciating his actions.

Jurors failed to reach a verdict before retiring for the night and were to resume their deliberations on Wednesday morning.

In delivering his final instructions to jurors in the trial of Christopher Husbands, Superior Court Justice Eugene Ewaschuk told the 12-member panel they have three verdicts available to them -- guilty, not guilty or not criminally responsible.

Husbands has admitted to fatally shooting Nixon Nirmalendran and Ahmed Hassan and wounding five others in June 2012, but has pleaded not guilty to multiple charges that include two counts of first-degree murder.

His defence lawyers have argued Husbands should be found not criminally responsible by reason of a mental disorder.

A psychiatrist called by the defence testified that Husbands suffered from post traumatic stress disorder and acted like a "robotic automaton" when he found himself confronted at the mall by two men who had viciously attacked him months earlier. The Crown, however, has argued that Husbands gunned down the two men in deliberate retaliation for a previous attack on him.

In explaining the defence of not criminally responsible for jurors, Ewaschuk said the burden is on the accused in the case to prove insanity.

"If you find that he was acting in a state of mentally disordered automatism at that time, your verdict should be not criminally responsible for all counts. That would be the end of your deliberations," Ewaschuk told the jury.

If the jury rejects the defence of mentally disordered automatism, they must consider if Husbands is guilty of second-degree murder, manslaughter, or first-degree murder, Ewaschuk said.

Jurors must weigh all the evidence before them, he said, including video surveillance footage from the crowded food court at the Eaton Centre, where Husbands opened fire. …

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