A mentally ill man who stabbed five teenagers to death at a Calgary House party seven years ago could live in a group home for Christmas but is far from being released again in the community.
Matthew de Grood, 30, was not found guilty of killing Zachary Rathwell, Jordan Segura, Caitlin Pierce, Josh Hunter and Lawrence Hong in 2014 because he was suffering from schizophrenia at the time.
He attended his annual Alberta Review Board hearing to review his treatment and whether he should be allowed any additional privileges or freedoms over the next year.
The review board is expected to issue its decision in a few weeks.
The board heard that DeGroud’s psychiatry was in complete remission and that he had no problem taking medication.
A psychiatrist treating her at an Alberta hospital in Edmonton said moving to a group home was a logical step forward, but advised that DeGroud be on a full mental health warrant rather than a conditional discharge.
Dr. Santoch Roy said that there are some important uncertainties. “The treatment team has decided to address the uncertainty that we feel is a matter of public safety.”
Roy said the mental health warrant allows D-Grud to return to the hospital immediately if he deteriorates and stops taking his medication.
“He can show up very well in a place where he can really work in a working environment and then work very seriously in the evenings,” he said.
It has the ability to “do a lot of harm to a lot of people and do it very quickly.”
De Groud’s trial heard that he was a university student who had attended a party at the end of the school year. He attacked others there, believing that Satan was talking to him and that a war was about to break out, a sign of the end of the world.
A judge ruled that he was a fraud at the time and did not realize that his actions were wrong.
“De Grud could eventually be allowed more freedom, but I think we’re far from it,” Roy said.
He also said it would be helpful for DeGroud to return to Calgary to stay close to his family. But DeGroud’s lawyer, Alan Fay, told the hearing that his client was not requesting the move and wanted to stay in Edmonton in the near future.
Wearing a mask, de Grood addressed the review board and said he was not asking for sympathy.
“I accept what I have done and I am really sorry. I just hope that one day I will be seen as a person who is able to return to society. The weight of this tragedy is on my shoulders. Too much and has not diminished over time.
“I have shame and guilt with me 24-7 and will do so forever. I want to improve in every way possible. I am determined to manage my illness.
Doug and Susan de Grood also filed a statement with the board stating that their son was a human, not a monster.
Nothing prepared us for the growing crusade for Matthew’s life sentence. We need to remind those who seem to have forgotten that Matthew has already been tried and has not been found guilty.
“Still, some people think that the annual review board hearings should be seen as a search for justice.”
The board heard statements from affected families. Many were frustrated and angry.
“This is the sixth influential impact statement I will submit because my son Joshua was taken over by Matthew de Grood. I struggle to write for Josh’s honor every year,” said Kelly Hunter.
“Sometimes I get so sad I can’t help but think of Josh that he’s not here anymore. I miss him so much.”
Shannon Miller said the pain of losing her daughter Kathy would not go away.
“The truth is, Kathy didn’t die. She was killed, and there’s a big difference between the two.
“How do you describe getting Katie out of my life? She was my daughter. She was part of who I am and now she’s gone forever. It breaks me.”
– Bill Grewalland Canadian Press.