Edmonton

Psychiatrist says Silva Koshwal should be held responsible for ex-girlfriend's murder

A forensic psychiatrist has testified at a second-degree murder trial that in his opinion, Silva Koshwal, 42, should be held criminally responsible for stabbing and mutilating his ex-girlfriend, Nadine Skow in August, 2015.

Warning: This story contains graphic details that may be disturbing to some readers

Nadine Skow, 38, was stabbed to death in her apartment in August, 2015. (Facebook)

A forensic psychiatrist has testified he does not think Silva Koshwal is entitled to use the defence of not criminally responsible in the murder of his ex-girlfriend. 

Dr. Roger Brown told a murder trial in Edmonton Tuesday that in his opinion, Koshwal knew what he was doing when he attacked Nadine Skow.

In August 2015, Koshwal stabbed his 38-year-old ex-girlfriend 101 times in her Edmonton apartment.

He removed her uterus, ovaries and heart and nearly severed a finger. Then he wrote the letter A in her blood on the bedroom wall. 

Court of Queen's Bench Justice Sterling Sanderman has convicted Koshwal, 42, of second-degree murder and offering an indignity to a dead body. 

Koshwal's lawyer is asking Sanderman to find Koshwal not criminally responsible because of a mental disorder. A forensic psychologist called by Koshwal's lawyer testified Monday he believes Koshwal is entitled to use that defence.

Leslie Block diagnosed Koshwal with overlapping psychiatric disorders including complex post-traumatic stress, depression and dissociation.

The Crown's rebuttal witness prepared a 27-page report for the court after Koshwal recently spent six weeks at Alberta Hospital Edmonton. 

Brown diagnosed Koshwal with a major depressive disorder, alcohol use disorder and acknowledged he has experienced PTSD symptoms as a result of childhood trauma while growing up in the Sudan. 

"If Mr. Koshwal were mentally impaired at the time of the alleged offences, it is most likely that alcohol and illicit drugs, such as cocaine were the primary contributors," Brown wrote.

"Ultimately, if Mr. Koshwal was intoxicated and disinhibited by substance use and committed the injuries to Ms. Skow out of anger, there is no indication that he would have failed to understand the moral wrongfulness of his actions." 

Koshwal's version of events 

Hours after Nadine Skow was stabbed to death, Koshwal turned himself into Edmonton police. "I killed my wife," he told a constable at the front counter.

Later he denied making that admission. After he was charged with murder, he told a homicide detective he didn't know what happened the night Skow died.

Brown watched the videotaped statement Koshwal made to police. "There is no indication to the author that Mr. Koshwal was displaying signs of psychosis or other major mental illness based on his presentation in this interview," he wrote in his report.

Brown's report contains Koshwal's version of the last hours of Skow's life.

Koshwal told the psychiatrist Skow called him because she wasn't feeling well and needed his help.

This surveillance photograph from a London Drugs store in Edmonton shows a cashier ringing through purchases made by Silva Koshwal, in grey cap, and Nadine Skow. (Court exhibit)

They had been in a three-year relationship and had broken up almost a year before, but according to Koshwal they were still on good terms and remained sexually intimate. 

The pair was captured on a surveillance camera at a London Drugs in the late afternoon on August 23, 2015, where Koshwal said they bought some cold medication, bubble bath, Tylenol and soup.

Then they went back to her apartment, where Koshwal said he prepared a bath for her and washed her before making some soup. He rubbed Vicks on her feet before she laid down for a nap.

Crack cocaine, alcohol and pills

Koshwal said he tidied up her apartment, then drove her vehicle back to his place. He admitted he smoked some crack cocaine, then walked back to her apartment around midnight. That walk was captured on an Edmonton Transit surveillance camera.

According to Koshwal's account, he let himself into Skow's apartment and drank half a bottle of liqueur and 1½ bottles of wine. He had taken his antidepressant medication and a sleeping pill. Koshwal said he fell asleep on the living room couch while he was watching television. 

Around 7 a.m. the next morning, he pushed open the door to her bedroom and saw Skow dead on the floor, he told Brown.

"He stated there was blood everywhere," the psychiatrist wrote. "He went to examine her and became nauseated and began vomiting. He stated he felt scared, locked the door in the bathroom at her residence and began vomiting further." 

Neighbours heard screams coming from her apartment early that morning, but Koshwal denied hearing any screaming at all and insisted he had no involvement with Skow's death.  

The forensic psychiatrist noted that "appears implausible."

His report also mentions LRT surveillance video showed Koshwal driving Skow's vehicle around 4 a.m. on Aug. 24, 2015.

'Feelings of jealousy and anger'

The victim's friends told police they believed Skow and Koshwal had a troubled relationship. Some said Skow had immediate plans to move to a new place and deliberately had withheld her new location from Koshwal. Some suggested he was stalking her, making up to 67 calls to her in a day. 

On the day she died, Koshwal was supposed to exchange furniture with her for the move. 

Silva Koshwal, 42, in a picture taken by Edmonton Police following his arrest in August, 2015. (Edmonton Police Service/Court exhibit )

"It is most likely that Mr. Koshwal held feelings of jealousy and anger toward the victim at the time of the alleged offences, Brown wrote. "The bizarre and disturbing harm inflicted on the victim, including mutilation of her body, is suggestive of intense emotions at the material time."

Brown also found significance in the extreme injuries inflicted on his ex-girlfriend. 

"It appears that substantial effort would have been required to complete these actions," Brown wrote. "It suggests that the assailant was highly motivated to cause her death."

In cross-examination, defence lawyer Peter Royal asked, "Is it possible you're incorrect?" 

"It is possible, yes," Brown answered. 

All the evidence is now in. Sanderman will hear closing arguments from the Crown and defence Wednesday.
 

About the Author

Janice Johnston is an award-winning journalist in Edmonton who has covered the courts and crime for more than two decades. You can reach her at janice.johnston@cbc.ca or on Twitter at @cbcjanjohnston

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