Accused N.S. killer's mom says system failed

A Nova Scotia woman says the province's mental health system failed her son, a convicted killer who is still facing two first-degree murder charges.
Glen Race, seen here in December, is charged in the 2007 deaths of Michael Paul Knott and Trevor Charles Brewster. ((CBC))

A Nova Scotia woman says the province's mental health system failed her son, a convicted killer who is still facing two first-degree murder charges.

Glen Race, 29, who was convicted of first-degree murder in New York state in January 2009, is in his home province of Nova Scotia for court proceedings on two first-degree murder charges. He was returned to Canada in October but is expected to return to the U.S. to serve his sentence there after the Canadian court proceedings are complete.

He is charged in the deaths of Michael Paul Knott and Trevor Charles Brewster, who were both found dead in the Halifax area in May 2007. His next Canadian court appearance is scheduled for April 21.

On Tuesday, his parents, Mark and Donna Race, spoke out about their son for the first time since his arrest in 2007 following a continent-wide manhunt.

Donna told a news conference in Halifax that the mental health system failed her son, who was first diagnosed with schizophrenia in 2001 when he was a student at Dalhousie University.

Over the years, her son's bizarre behaviour got worse, Donna said. He refused treatments and wouldn't take his medications. Race said she always feared losing him to his mental illness. Now, she said, she's lost him.

The week before the murders in Nova Scotia, she called police and doctors to try to get her son readmitted to hospital but was told there was nothing they could do.

Still, Donna said, she never believed her son could or would kill someone.

"To have him at the point where he would hurt somebody like he has, I never would have thought that," she said. "He wasn't that type of young man."

In January 2009, Race was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison for killing Darcy Manor in Mooers, N.Y., in May 2007. The prosecution alleged during the trial that Race shot Manor, 35, in the back at a secluded hunting lodge.

Trevor Charles Brewster and Michael Paul Knott were killed in 2007.

Mark Race said funding for mental health in Canada and Nova Scotia is below other developed countries, adding that more awareness is needed about mental health to remove its stigma.

Race's brother Doug said the system isn't completely to blame if someone doesn't want to accept treatment.

Family members are hoping Glen Race is found not criminally responsible for his actions at his Canadian trial.

"It's obviously something the public would be very concerned about," Doug said. "But that again boils down to the awareness of the illness and how these types of symptoms can be controlled with medication."

Joel Pink, Glen Race's lawyer, is trying to find grounds to overturn the extradition order that says he must be returned to the U.S. to serve his sentence there. But Pink said he expects that will be an uphill battle.

Race may also appeal the U.S. conviction because the lawyer there never raised an insanity defence.

Family members said they visit him often in a Halifax prison. Since his U.S. conviction, Race has been receiving psychiatric treatment, is back on his medication and is doing well, say family members.