The man accused of fatally stabbing five young adults at a house party in Calgary a week ago has been ordered to undergo a psychiatric assessment to determine if he is fit to stand trial. 

Matthew de Grood, 22, had a court hearing Tuesday morning via closed-circuit television, appearing hunched over with his hand on the side of his face during most of the proceedings.

de grood

Matthew de Grood, accused of stabbing five people to death at a Calgary party last week, made a court appearance by closed-circuit video on Tuesday and will be undergoing a mental-health assessment. (John Senz)

At the request of psychiatrist Dr. Reilly Smith and Crown prosecutor Stephanie Brown, provincial court Judge James Ogle ordered de Grood to remain at a secure psychiatric facility in the city’s northwest for the mental-health assessment.

His next court appearance was set for May 22.

De Grood is charged with five counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Lawrence Hong, 27, Joshua Hunter, 23, Kaitlin Perras, 23, Zackariah Rathwell, 21, and ​Jordan Segura, 22. 

Brown said prosecutors are committed to keeping the families of the victims informed as the case progresses.

"We will be meeting with them in the coming days,” she said. 

The five were stabbed to death at a house party celebrating the end of university classes in the northwest community of Brentwood at around 1:20 a.m. MT on April 15.

De Grood, the son of veteran Calgary police Insp. Douglas de Grood, was arrested a short time later a few blocks away with help from a K-9 unit.

Not seeking bail at this time, says lawyer

Police have said de Grood knew at least one person at the party and was an invited guest.

Investigators are examining text messages he may have sent in the hours leading up to the party.

Defence lawyer Allan Fay said he has met with his client three or four times, but de Grood has not yet seen his parents. 

Fay said de Grood would not be seeking bail at this time.

"I anticipate it will be quite some time before the Crown is able to provide me any sort of disclosure and until such time as I get disclosure, I am not prepared to speak to bail." 

His client has injuries to his head and wrist stemming from his arrest, Fay said. 

Dr. Kenneth Hashman, the head of forensic psychiatry services for southern Alberta, says the psychiatric assessment will make sure de Grood understands he will be appearing in a courtroom, that he understands the charges against him and that he is able to communicate with his lawyer.

Assessment explained

"If the court decides that a person is unfit to stand trial, they then fall under the authority of the Alberta Review Board and they have to appear in front of them within 45 days for further determinations," he said.

Hashman says if a patient has no history of mental illness, then psychiatrists will collect information through a series of tests over a period of 30 days. But even if the accused is found fit for trial, they can still be found not criminally responsible if they were mentally ill at the time of the alleged criminal actions.

Fay confirmed he will be looking into whether de Grood should be considered not criminally responsible for the killings.

"I'd be foolish to overlook any possibility, especially in a case that on its face is as bizarre as this,” he said.

Hundreds of mourners also gathered Tuesday for the funeral of Rathwell.

The Rathwell family extended a public invitation for the service at the Centre Street Church in northeast Calgary at 1:30 p.m. MT.

Funerals were held on Monday for Segura, Perras and Hunter. Hong’s funeral is set for Wednesday at the Centre Street Church at 1:30 p.m. MT.