Man who killed recovery house worker in New Westminster, B.C., found not criminally responsible

The man who claimed he was in a state of psychosis when he killed 38-year old Jason Collett at a home with a hammer and a paring knife was found not criminally responsible by a B.C. Supreme Court judge.

Jason Collett was attacked with a hammer and knife at the recovery house where he worked

The body of Jason Collett, 38, was found in September 2014 at the Last Door Recovery house, a residential addiction treatment centre in New Westminster, B.C. He worked as the house manager at the centre's transition house. (Last Door Recovery Centre)

The man who claimed he was in a state of psychosis when he killed a worker at a recovery home in New Westminster, B.C., was found not criminally responsible by a B.C. Supreme Court judge.

Steven Bradley Rogers, a former patient at the Last Door Recovery Centre, was charged with second-degree murder for killing Jason Collett, 38, a house manager at the centre that treats patients with addiction issues.

Justice Elliott Myers ruled Friday that Rogers suffered from a psychotic mental disorder and was incapable of knowing the homicide was wrong because of "disease of the mind."

"Mr. Rogers was in a state of psychosis when he killed Mr. Collett. The psychosis was not drug-induced. Nor was it due to substance withdrawal. Further, it was not transitory," Myers said.

As the verdict was read in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver, relatives of Collett became emotional, yelling loudly as they walked out.

'Guided by something or someone'

Rogers — originally from Saskatchewan — became a patient at the Last Door Recovery society in August 2013 to seek treatment for drug, alcohol and video game addiction.

The day before the killing, he was scheduled to move out of the centre to the home a support worker, but he didn't leave.

According to Myers's ruling, Rogers told police that in early morning of Sept. 16, 2014, he heard a voice in his head which told him to carry out the killing.

"I was being guided by something or someone. I dunno [sic] if it was like God or the Devil or what ... I don't really know why, I just knew like, I had until 2:26 in the morning to kill," Myers noted Rogers told police.

Rogers then went into Collett's room at the recovery home, where Collett lived and worked, and struck him in the temple with a hammer and stabbed him multiple times in the heart.

Rogers then left the home and went to Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, where Vancouver police took him into custody for an unrelated offence and later released him.

On Sept. 17, he came back to the Last Door's main office and admitted to using drugs and killing Collett.

Question of psychosis

Rogers did not testify during the trial, but three psychiatrists who interviewed him did — all agreed he was in a state of psychosis when he killed Collett.

But psychiatrists for the defence testified the psychosis stemmed from an underlying mental disorder, possibly schizophrenia. 

The Crown's psychiatrist argued Rogers may have been under the influence of drugs, but disagreed the killing was driven by a psychiatric disorder.

In order for someone to be deemed not criminally responsible for a killing, there must be evidence to prove they were not aware that what they were doing was morally wrong.

Myers ultimately sided with the opinion of the defence's psychiatrists and ruled that Rogers should be acquitted based on reason of mental defect.