Calgary

Calgary house party killer Matthew de Grood says 'no one deserves the pain I caused' at 1st NCR hearing

An Alberta Review Board hearing for Matthew de Grood, the Calgary man found not criminally responsible for the stabbing deaths of five young people, heard from victims’ family members Wednesday about the anguish of living without their loved ones.

Calgary man was found not criminally responsible for killing 5 at house party

Zackariah Rathwell, 21, Lawrence Hong, 27, Kaitlin Perras, 23, ​Jordan Segura, 22, and Joshua Hunter, 23, died after Matthew de Grood, 22, stabbed them at a party in Calgary's Brentwood community in 2014. (Facebook)

An Alberta Review Board hearing for Matthew de Grood, the Calgary man found not criminally responsible for the stabbing deaths of five young people, heard from victims' family members Wednesday about the anguish of living without their loved ones.

"Was she afraid of dying? Did she think about her family and friends?" Gregg Perras, father of slain 23-year-old Kaitlin Perras, asked in his victim impact statement at the first review board hearing de Grood's future treatment and possible eventual reintegration into society.

"Not knowing her fears is excruciating for me, it caused me great sorrow."

De Grood fatally stabbed Lawrence Hong, 27, Joshua Hunter, 23, Kaitlin Perras, 23, Zackariah Rathwell, 21, and Jordan Segura, 22, in April 2014 at a party celebrating the end of university classes.

Originally charged with five counts of first-degree murder, de Grood was found to be in a psychotic state at the time of the killings and could not understand that his actions were morally wrong, so he was found not criminally responsible (NCR) in May, following a trial.

At the review hearing in Calgary, de Grood spoke publicly for the first time, committing to continuing his treatment and offering an apology to the families in the courtroom.

"No one deserves the pain they are going through, no one deserves the pain I caused," de Grood said.

Prosecutor Michele Collinson said Wednesday that de Grood "is a significant risk to the community."

De Grood was sent to the Southern Alberta Forensic Psychiatry Centre for treatment where doctors are leaning toward a diagnosis of schizophrenia though, Dr. Sergio Santana said it will take about a year for a full evaluation.

Santana also said de Grood is showing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.

"He is fragile but he's developed some resilience," said Santana. 

Matthew de Grood is shown on the right on the first day of his murder trial, and on the left some time before the deadly stabbings. (Photo by Canadian Press/Sketch by Janice Fletcher)

This week, the review board was tasked with deciding what, if any freedoms and privileges — like escorted outings — would be granted to de Grood after hearing from members of his treatment team.

The recommendations from de Grood's team, including psychologists and psychiatrists, were that he remain at a secure psychiatric facility and be granted no privileges.

Members of the team also suggested that instead of the standard six months between reviews, it would be beneficial to extend de Grood's next review appearance to one year.

The board unanimously agreed to accept those recommendations.

The panel, led by provincial court Judge Allan LeFever, will release its written reasons for the decision in the next week or so.

'Was she afraid of dying?'

A publication ban was imposed on information presented at the hearing but was lifted after submissions from a lawyer representing CBC News and other media outlets.

Many of de Grood's victims' family members described the difficulties of living without their loved ones.

"I wonder what life lay ahead, asking myself, 'What is there worth living for?'" said Lorenzo Hong. "Life with the loss of Lawrence is a life of emptiness."

Several family members said they were afraid for their safety if de Grood were to be released.

"We all know justice doesn't exist in this case," Lorenzo Hong said.

'No one deserves the pain I caused'

Joshua Hunter's mother spoke about her anger and how her relationships have changed since her son was killed.

"I have so much anger and sadness, and I know at times I make them feel so uncomfortable," said Kelly Hunter. "I just can't help myself."

Members of de Grood's family also made statements offering their condolences to the victims' families, their commitment to supporting de Grood through his treatment and asked the panel to allow that treatment to continue in Calgary rather than Edmonton.

Gregg Perras, father of Kaitlin, said while he lost a child, some of the younger people lost five friends. (Meghan Grant/CBC)

Gregg Perras said there has been so much suffering since the deaths.

"Many of the younger people lost five friends that day. I lost a child. They lost five friends. How do they cope with that?" he asked.

Ronda-Lee Rathwell said it's even more difficult to deal with the loss for younger people.

"I have some life experience, I have the ability to take care of myself and I know where to look for help," she said.

"These kids don't. They are in their 20s. My son was 18 when his brother was killed. He doesn't have the same coping mechanisms that we as adults have. None of these kids do. This is a huge traumatic incident that is going to reflect how they deal with the rest of their lives."

High-risk NCR designation possible

Throughout the Court of Queen's Bench murder trial in May, Justice Eric Macklin heard evidence that de Grood believed he was at war with vampires and werewolves, and had to kill before he was killed.

Court also heard that de Grood sent ominous messages in the hours before the killings and told friends at the party that he thought the end of the world was imminent.

At the party, de Grood talked about conspiracy theories, hidden meanings in songs and patterns in the Matrix movies, and spoke of U.S. President Barack Obama being "the Antichrist."

There is a chance the Crown will seek a high-risk NCR designation in which case de Grood could go up to three years between hearings.