Despres diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenic
A court-appointed psychiatrist says Gregory Allan Despres is not fit to stand trial because he has paranoid schizophrenia, and the testimony from the defendant's mother appears to support the diagnosis.
Despres's double-murder trial resumed on Tuesday with hearings on his mental state. Despres is charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of elderly Minto couple Fred Fulton and Verna Decarie.
In February, afteran incoherent, 15-minute outburst in court from Despres, Judge Judy Clendenning orderedhim to undergo a 60-day psychiatric assessment to determine if he was fit to stand trial. It would be the third psychiatric assessment Despres would undergo.
Forensic psychiatrist Dr. Peter Scott Theriault, who performed the latest assessmentat the Shepody Healing Centre in Dorchester, told the court Tuesday that Despres is not fit to stand trial. Based on his observations, Theriault says Despres suffers from an inability to understand what is happening in court due to paranoid schizophrenia.
Despres's mother, Jeannie Despres, was the first witness called Tuesday. Shesaid she could pinpoint a time when her son changed from a loving, obedient and sociable child to a withdrawn, deluded and, at times, volatile young adult.
She said she raised Despresin the small Massachusetts town of Bedford. She saidhe was involved as a teen in lots of activities such as hunting, fishing, air cadets and softball.
When Despres was in Grade 11, Glendon Myers, Despres's terminally ill biological father, got in touch with him, and asked him to move back home to Minto.
Despres's mother said she didn't hear or see much of her son for the next year or two, and when she moved back to Minto, he was a different person.
"He was very withdrawn," she said. "Didn't seem to want to socialize or go out. He preferred to stay to himself."
When a person could get a few words out ofDespres, his mother said, the young man's train of thought was difficult to follow.
"At times he seemed to think he was involved with the Hells Angels group or a military faction, or things that I had no knowledge of, or didn't understand where these ideas were coming from."
Theriault, who testified after Despres's mother, said this kind of behaviour points to paranoid schizophrenia.
Paranoid schizophrenia, he testified, usually develops in a person's late teens, just when Despres's family said they started to notice his personality changing. Theriault says he believes Despres has had the illness for at least three years.
Theriault is theonly oneof three doctors to determine that Despres is not fit to stand trial.
A pre-sentence report, assembled in 2005, said Despres didn't suffer from an illness, and diagnosed him with an anti-social personality disorder. Theriault said he didn't agree with that conclusion, because there was nothing predating adulthood that showed he struggled to comply with social norms, a classic symptom.
A second psychiatric assessment declared Despres mentally fit.
If the court agrees with Theriault's diagnosis, determiningthat Despres is not fit to stand, the double-murder trial will halt and he will be given further psychiatric care and a later examination by a board of review.