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Matthew de Grood calls for absolute acquittal of the murders


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The man who was found criminally not responsible for the stabbing deaths of five people at a Brentwood house party more than nine years ago is seeking more freedoms.

Matthew de Grood has applied to the Alberta Court of Appeal for an absolute discharge.

According to the Government of Canada, that means the court would find him acquitted of the crimes without any convictions having been recorded.

“Conditional or absolute discharges can only be ordered for less serious crimes,” the justice department said.

De Grood was arrested on April 15, 2014 in connection with the fatal stabbings of Joshua Hunter, Kaiti Perras, Jordan Segura, Lawrence Hong, and Zackariah Rathwell.

He was not found criminally responsible on May 25, 2016, after it was determined that he suffered from schizophrenia at the time of the murders.

Since then, he has been under supervision and his case has been reviewed annually by the Alberta Review Board (ARB).

This most recent appeal stems from a request from De Grood’s lawyer last year, who requested the ARB’s most recent decision that he should be detained either at the Alberta Hospital in Edmonton or at the Southern Alberta Forensic Psychiatric Center in Calgary.

De Grood’s lawyer, Jacqueline Petrie, argued that the decision was unreasonable due to “procedural unfairness” and a “reasonable apprehension of bias”.

Matthew de Grood, appearing in a Calgary court on April 22, 2014, is shown in this artist’s sketch. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Janice Fletcher)

Speaking outside court in Edmonton, some family members say this latest appeal, plus the ARB review, has left them feeling traumatized and overlooked.

“He’s not happy where he is, but that’s too bad. He killed five people,” Barclay Hunter said.

“We’re not happy where our kids are either,” Kelly Hunter said.

“We have no cure. Because we do this every year.”

“Nobody ever thinks about families. I’ve been stressed about this for days,” said Patty Segura.

Segura says that the nine years since April 2014 have felt focused on De Grood.

“Nobody asks us in the courtroom about our stress level. Nobody asks us about it.”

If granted, the download would be unconditional.

Some criminal justice experts say the advances towards liberties and privileges may be a reminder of the tension between victims and offenders, also pointing out that the de Grood affair is being dealt with outside the criminal justice system, due to his condition of not criminally responsible due to a mental disorder. .

“So the question becomes victims’ rights versus offender rights, versus public rights, versus rights in the criminal justice system,” said Doug King, a professor of justice studies at the University of Mount Royal.

He says Canada’s prison system has been designed to serve as a rehabilitation tool.

King says there is research showing that a phased reintegration into society, through methods such as day parole, has provided evidence of more successful outcomes and increased public safety.

“Punishment doesn’t necessarily deter. More severe punishment actually creates a higher risk of recidivism,” King said.

Of De Grood, King says that greater transparency from officials about the processes within review board hearings, parole, and corrections can help improve public understanding of how these systems are intended to benefit society.

(With Canadian Press archives)

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