Man accused of killing Red Deer doctor dies weeks before trial set to start

The man accused of killing a 45-year-old doctor in Red Deer in August 2020 died Tuesday morning, just weeks before his murder trial was to begin.

Deng Mabiour was facing a murder trial in the death of Dr. Walter Reynolds

Deng Mabiour, 54, shown during his arrest by RCMP outside a Red Deer medical clinic in Aug. 2020. He died Tuesday morning. (Facebook )

The man accused of killing a 45-year-old doctor in Red Deer, Alta. in August 2020 died Tuesday morning, just weeks before his murder trial was set to begin.

Deng Mabiour was due in court later this month to face a first-degree murder charge in the death of Dr. Walter Reynolds, but died at Foothills Hospital in Calgary, a lawyer with Red Deer Law Group confirmed Tuesday. 

The trial was scheduled from Nov. 22 to Dec. 17.

Mabiour was planning to represent himself in court with the assistance of a friend of the court assigned to help with the trial after he refused to get a lawyer. 

Jason Snider, a Red Deer lawyer appointed as Mabiour's friend of the court, said he didn't know the exact cause of death. 

Previously, CBC News reported that Mabiour, 54 at the time of his arrest, was suffering from cancer. 

When Mabiour first appeared in court in August 2020, he told the judge he didn't remember everything in detail about the attack because he was sick and needed a doctor. 

At the time of the attack, a witness told CBC News that a man armed with a hammer and machete attacked the doctor inside an examination room.

Provincial court Judge Bert Skinner ordered Mabiour to undergo a psychiatric assessment last winter, after which he was deemed fit to stand trial.

Reynolds was working at the Village Mall Walk-In Clinic in Red Deer when he was attacked on Aug. 11, 2020.

Father of 2 daughters

The 45-year-old father and husband died later in hospital. Reynolds left behind two young daughters. 

Police arrested Mabiour at the scene, charging him with first-degree murder, assault with a weapon and assaulting a police officer. 

Dr. Walter Reynolds died in hospital after he was assaulted with a weapon at the Village Mall Walk-in Clinic in Red Deer. (Travis McEwan/CBC)

Police said the attack was targeted and premeditated but that Mabiour had no previous criminal record. 

Later in court, Mabiour said Reynolds was his doctor. 

An office manager at the clinic, Debbie York, described the doctor as one of the kindest, gentlest people you would ever want to know. 

Unexpected closure

Dr. Peter Bouch, a physician in Red Deer who knew Reynolds, said he had mixed feelings regarding the news that Mabiour had died. 

Bouch suggested some people may be relieved that they don't have to go through a trial. 

"Having the justice system do their thing is also, you know, it might have given some more closure to some of the people," Bouch told CBC News in a phone interview Tuesday. 

Bouch said that he thinks Mabiour intended to hurt Reynolds that day, and that he was at the clinic previously as a patient.

He said it's still not clear what drove him to attack the doctor. "He wasn't even aggressive in the past," he said. 

Enhanced security

After the killing, physicians struck up a safety committee and held a town hall to discuss future security measures. Psychologists and safety experts gave clinic staff and doctors advice on how to defuse potentially violent situations. 

Bouch said the lessons were useful, but noted that the attack on Reynolds was unusual and extremely difficult to predict. 

"That guy came in with intent to harm. A lot of people don't, they come in and just get angered." 

Some clinics have installed increased security measures like panic buttons, some take precautions like trying to eliminate hiding places and require people to leave their bags or backpacks at the desk. 

With files from Janice Johnston and Wallis Snowdon