Calgary

Calgary man with autism holds his mom's hand as he's found unfit to stand trial for murder

While sitting in a prisoner's box in a Calgary courtroom, a Calgary man with autism held his mother's hand as a judge found the 36-year-old mentally unfit to stand trial for his father's murder in what has been described as a "tragic" case. 

Vincent Fong, 36, was charged with 2nd-degree murder but will be treated at a secure psychiatric facility

Vincent Fong, 36, is mentally unfit to stand trial, meaning he doesn't have the capacity to understand the charges against him and cannot instruct a lawyer. Fong was charged with murder in the death of his father. (Facebook)

While sitting in a prisoner's box in a Calgary courtroom, a Calgary man with autism held his mother's hand as a judge found the 36-year-old mentally unfit to stand trial for his father's murder in what has been described as a "tragic" case. 

Vincent Fong, 36, spent the last two days in shackles in a Calgary courtroom as prosecutor Darren Maloney and defence lawyer Ben Leung presented evidence to provincial court Judge Bruce Fraser.

"I am satisfied … that the accused meets the criteria of unfit to stand trial," Fraser said.

Shu Kawn Fong was found dead inside his northwest home in January.

His son was charged with second-degree murder, but concerns over his mental state were identified very early on in the court process by a court-appointed psychiatrist. 

"Tragic is a very good way to describe it," said Leung. "There's always more to the story than what gets initially reported."

Mother brought in

After a lengthy assessment, Dr. David Tano testified that, in his opinion, Fong was unfit to stand trial, meaning he cannot instruct his lawyer and does not understand the court process. 

"He has no understanding of the possible consequences of a trial," said Fraser, based on Tano's testimony Friday.

Much of the evidence presented over the last two days is protected by a publication ban. Only Fraser's decision is reportable. 

During Fong's fitness hearing this week, everyone in the courtroom worked together to make the process as smooth as possible for the accused, who also suffers from obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and cognitive deficits. 

Fong, who spins when he's stressed out, needed to be near his mother to have the best chance at staying calm throughout his hearing.

Fong asks if his dad is home

The judge, sheriff, Crown and defence all co-operated to make it possible for Fong's mother to sit close enough that he could hold her hand.

Fraser noted in his decision Friday that Fong "does not understand the concept of death.

"[He] inquires of his mother if his dad, the victim, is recovering, and if he is still home."

The Alberta Review Board will check in on Fong and his treatment. 

If Fong's condition ever changes, he could still face trial on the charge of second-degree murder. 

For now, he will continue to be treated at the Southern Alberta Forensic Psychiatry Centre.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Meghan Grant

CBC Calgary crime reporter

Meghan Grant is a justice affairs reporter. She has been covering courts, crime and stories of police accountability in southern Alberta for more than a decade. Send Meghan a story tip at meghan.grant@cbc.ca or follow her on Twitter.

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