Matthew de Grood murder trial: Publication ban placed on court document in Calgary stabbings

A Calgary judge has decided to release graphic details surrounding the fatal stabbings of five young people at a party last April, but has placed a publication ban on the court document until after the trial.

23-year-old accused of fatally stabbing 5 young people at house party last April

Zackariah Rathwell, 21, Lawrence Hong, 27, Kaitlin Perras, 23, ​Jordan Segura, 22, and Joshua Hunter, 23, were stabbed to death April 15, 2014, while celebrating the end of post-secondary classes. (Facebook)

A Calgary judge has decided to release graphic details surrounding the fatal stabbings of five young people at a party last April, but has placed a publication ban on the court document until after the trial.

A lawyer representing the CBC, as well as other media outlets, asked provincial court Judge Tim Hironaka last fall to unseal a document called an information to obtain (ITO), which is also known as a search warrant application.

Matthew de Grood, accused of stabbing five people to death at a Calgary party last April, has been committed to stand trial on five counts of first-degree murder. (The Canadian Press)

The ITO contains details about what happened on the morning of April 15 last year in a house in Brentwood in northwest Calgary.

Lawrence Hong, 27, Joshua Hunter, 23, Kaitlin Perras, 23, Zackariah Rathwell, 21, and Jordan Segura, 22, were killed in an attack that shocked the city.

They had been celebrating the end of university classes when the stabbings occurred.

Matthew DeGrood, 23, was arrested a short distance away and has been held in custody since, charged with five counts of first-degree murder.

"The judge found that there was certain aspects of the evidence that in fact could result in prejudice to his fair trial rights," said Matt Woodley, the lawyer representing the media, about the court document. 

Trial date to be set in May

Woodley argued that in many cases jurors can put pre-trial information out of their minds and just rely on the evidence presented in court.

An early mental health assessment found de Grood fit to stand trial — meaning he understands the legal process. 

He also underwent at least two subsequent psychiatric assessments that examined whether he could be found not criminally responsible. Those assessments are also under publication ban.

He was committed to stand trial earlier this month.

With the preliminary hearing complete, the case now moves to the Court of Queen’s Bench where a date for a trial will be scheduled at a hearing on May 29.

Crown prosecutors and a lawyer for the Calgary Police Service argued against unsealing the ITO.

The victims’ families issued a public plea for it to remain sealed because they believe it contains the most graphic details of the crime.