Anne Norris didn't know right from wrong when she killed Marcel Reardon, psychiatrist testifies
Dr. Nizar Ladha gave his opinion that Norris suffers from schizophrenia
Anne Norris was suffering from a mental disorder and did not know right from wrong when she killed Marcel Reardon, according to the opinion of a psychiatrist who examined her.
Dr. Nizar Ladha, the division head of forensic psychiatry for Eastern Health, was asked by Norris's defence to conduct the psychiatric assessment.
In his opinion — which he gave to the 12-person jury in the first-degree murder trial at Supreme Court Monday morning — Norris, 30, suffers from schizophrenia, or could be considered schizoaffective.
The blunt testimony from Ladha brought Norris's family to tears at points.
Gay Norris, Aunt Karen Norris crying while Ladha speaking now. Can hear sobs <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NorrisTrial?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NorrisTrial</a>—@stobincbc
Norris is on trial for the first-degree murder of Reardon, 46, on May 9, 2016. She has admitted to hitting him repeatedly in the head with a hammer, placing his body under the steps of Harbour View Apartments, and then disposing of the hammer by placing it in a borrowed backpack and tossing the bag into the harbour.
Her defence says she's not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder. The Crown argues Norris knew the consequences of her actions and planned to kill Reardon.
But Ladha's psychiatric report suggests Norris did not understand the consequences of what she was doing when she killed Reardon.
"She did what she believed she had to do," Ladha told the court.
Medication and care history
Ladha first saw Norris, at the request of defence lawyers Jerome Kennedy and Rosellen Sullivan, on June 1, 2016. At the time, Ladha said he did not obtain any history or look into Norris's background, preferring instead to do his first interview with her cold.
He would later look at her medical records, including her involvement with the PIER — Psychosis Intervention and Early Recovery — program under Dr. Kellie LeDrew, who testified last week and outlined her diagnosis that Norris has bipolar disoder with psychotic symptoms.
The fact that LeDrew had Norris on 3 mood stabilizers, one of them an anti-psychotic, shows the severity of her disorder, Ladha says <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NorrisTrial?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NorrisTrial</a>—@stobincbc
The diagnosis and years of care by LeDrew and the PIER program was "very important" for Ladha to have after his assessment of Norris, he said, because it put her illness into context.
That information, paired with the self-reported history, as well as the interview Ladha did with Anne Norris's parents, Florence and Gary Norris, helped him reach his diagnosis.
Kennedy asks why Ladha asked for psychological assessment by Penney. Ladha says one must make sure one is not dealing with anti-social personality disorder, or a psychopath <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NorrisTrial?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NorrisTrial</a>—@stobincbc
A diagnosis in 2012 of bipolar disorder with psychotic symptoms could have been accurate then, Ladha said, but over time symptoms can change and worsen.
There was a gap, he noted, of a couple of years where Norris was not admitted to psychiatric care. Ladha testified that during that time, she was receiving care under the PIER program voluntarily and taking medication.
Medication is “extremely important” for treating mental disorders. We are “bi-chemical brings,” Ladha says. There are other important parts of treatment, but Ladha emphasizes medication is “extremely important” <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NorrisTrial?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NorrisTrial</a>—@stobincbc
Norris also exhibited trust issues, and accused her father, a number of boyfriends and strangers of sexually assaulting her in her sleep.
This kind of thinking, Ladha told the court, paired with other complaints — like people breaking into her house and poisoning her food, as well as waiting in the woods outside to watch her — were part of what he called a "delusional atmosphere."
Psychiatric report requested
Ladha also said that Norris had reported feeling physical pain in her toenails, hands and chest for months, which he said was her mental state manifesting itself in physical pain.
Ladha met with Norris a number of times, the last of which was on Dec. 22, 2017. He also requested that Randy Penney, a registered psychologist, conduct testing on Norris to supplement his report.
Penney's conclusions, entered into court last week, outlined that Norris was not a psychopath. Ladha said a personality disorder is one of the most difficult to diagnose in psychiatry, and his hope was that Penney's report would help narrow that down, which Ladha said it did.
"I'm not a psychologist," Ladha said when asked by the defence if he directed Penney on what to examine for. Ladha did, however, tell Penney he was "particularly interested in psychopathy."
Rope tied into noose
Also on the stand Monday morning was Dr. Neil Young, the psychiatrist who was called to the police lockup on April 18, 2016, and would sign the committal order for Norris.
Young is one of four psychiatrists contracted by the Newfoundland and Labrador justice department to respond on an on-call basis to the city lockup.
When Young met Norris around noon that day, he was shown a backpack that was found in her possession, containing a 20-foot rope tied in a noose. He was also told about another backpack which contained a knife and chlorine bleach, which caused him some concern.
Norris's answers about why she had those items — that she was using the rope to tow a car — were unsatisfactory, and paired with inappropriate laugher and his learning of her involvement in the PIER program, Young said he was worried she would hurt herself.
“My mind jumped to suicidal thoughts,” given items found in bag. “I was concerned there was something going on.” That’s all the Crown questions for Dr. Young <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NorrisTrial?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NorrisTrial</a>—@stobincbc
He signed an order that day to have her committed against her will, something he said is not done lightly.
Norris was brought to the Waterford Hospital, and a few days later de-committed, but opted to stay.
She left the Waterford on May 6, 2016. Three days later, she killed Reardon.
Weapons under the bed
Last week's testimony from Gary Norris, Anne Norris's father, as well as her ex-boyfriend Brian Constantine, proved to be emotional for the Norris family.
“I didn’t know what the f—k to say to her,” he said. Gary Norris weeping while Constantine outlines what Anne told him about the coach <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NorrisTrial?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NorrisTrial</a>—@stobincbc
Gary Norris walked through his account of the years he and his wife Florence spent trying to help their daughter with her struggles with mental health.
When she was living with them, he at separate times found a steak knife, a baseball bat and a BB handgun under her bed.
Norris would tell her parents she believed people were breaking into the home and assaulting her, and said her parents weren't doing enough to protect her.
Those three items were shown to jurors on Feb. 5.
Norris's account of night she killed Reardon
Jurors also heard testimony last week from Randy Penney, the registered psychologist who was asked to do a report on Norris in December.
That report contained the first account the jury has heard about Norris's version of events the night she killed Reardon.
Penney says he’s previously been able to identify paychopathic traits solely from sitting with a person meeting the criteria. “When you spend time with someone who’s a psychopath, it’s clear” <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NorrisTrial?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NorrisTrial</a>—@stobincbc
Penney told the court that Norris remembered those events, but it felt like a dream, and she also described being afraid.
"She recalled being in her apartment and becoming highly anxious regarding her belief that he would certainly break into her apartment and attack her," Penney's report reads.
"She stated she was certain she would die that night. She believed he would come in and murder her in her bed."
Norris "remembered going outside to deal with him in order to ensure her safety," the report adds.
Penney also concluded in his report that Norris would not meet the criteria of a psychopath, scoring nine out of a possible 40 on the scale, with him scoring her liberally.
He did suggest that at the time she killed Reardon she was in a "highly dissociated and possibly psychotic state."
Crown prosecutors Iain Hollett and Jeff Summers wrapped their case after the first week, which began Jan. 22.
Justice William Goodridge is presiding over the case, which was slated for four weeks, but jurors were also told last week to expect it to continue into the week of Feb. 19.
Follow along with the latest developments in court as they happen in our live blog.