Anne Norris won't testify in her 1st-degree murder trial, as defence wraps case
Dr. Nizar Ladha, who diagnosed Norris with schizophrenia, says her actions need to be taken in context
Anne Norris's defence team wrapped its case in Supreme Court in St. John's Wednesday afternoon, meaning she won't be taking the stand in her first-degree murder trial.
The 30-year-old woman has admitted to killing Marcel Reardon on May 9, 2016, by hitting him repeatedly in the head with a hammer, as well as placing his body under the steps of Harbour View Apartments and getting rid of the hammer by placing it in a borrowed backpack and tossing that into the harbour.
Justice William Goodridge, who is presiding over the case, told jurors Wednesday afternoon that they won't be needed back in court until 10 a.m. on Feb. 19, and to expect to still be in the trial through most of that week.
Jurors were also told that the Crown will have a chance to present rebuttal evidence on Monday.
Dr. Nizar Ladha, the division head of forensic psychiatry at Eastern Health, was back on the stand Wednesday for cross-examination by the Crown prosecutors.
Ladha was asked by Norris's defence to do an assessment, after Norris was arrested and charged with first-degree murder.
He said Norris's actions right after killing Reardon don't paint the picture of a criminal mastermind who completely understood the consequences of what she was doing.
The defence had first called Ladha to the stand Monday morning, and between cross-examination and re-direct questions from the defence, his testimony continued until Wednesday afternoon — the 15th day of the murder trial.
Iain Hollett, one of the Crown prosecutors of the case, asked Ladha about the amount of questioning he did of Norris's account of what happened, and whether he sought to verify that what she told him was truthful.
Do you also accept people might lie to psychiatrist doing mental health assessment? Ladha says people lie all the time: you have to take interview in context and then come to conclusion <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NorrisTrial?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NorrisTrial</a>—@stobincbc
He pointed, for example, to her telling police that she didn't know who killed Reardon, that she had nothing to do with his death.
Hollett also pointed to a section of Ladha's report where he recorded Norris saying she had kept on hitting him, meaning Reardon, and that he wasn't dead yet.
Hollett's question was around whether or not Norris know the physical consequences of hitting someone repeatedly with a hammer — that it could kill them.
Ladha said that yes, Norris knew that hitting someone with a hammer could hurt or kill, but her overall understanding of the situation as a whole was foggy.
Norris has admitted to killing Reardon, 46, by hitting him repeatedly in the head with a hammer on May 9, 2016. She said she positioned his body under the steps of Harbour View Apartments, put the weapon in a borrowed backpack and threw it into the harbour.
Her defence is seeking a ruling that she was not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder. The Crown argues Norris knew the consequences of her actions.
Following pattern of hoarding weapons
The 12-person jury heard from Ladha on Tuesday that he attributed Norris's "uncontrolled frenzied violence" to her mental illness, which he diagnosed as schizophrenia.
On Wednesday, Ladha said that taking one section of his report on Norris didn't put it into the full context of her history of mental illness.
Norris told him she felt unsafe, afraid of everyone in her building at Harbour View Apartments, and that just because she did spend time alone with people there at other times, doesn't mean she wasn't afraid and following a pattern of hoarding weapons to protect herself.
Trained in karate? So why need hammer? Why take witness to harbour with her? Not the actions of somebody who thinking clearly, Ladha says. His opinion is she hasn’t quite fully grasped what has happened <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NorrisTrial?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NorrisTrial</a>—@stobincbc
Ladha says what has she done? Does she hide body? Says she hid it; she moved it. That kind of moving doesn’t make sense. “A seasoned criminal wouldn’t do that kind of stuff in my opinion” Ladha says <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NorrisTrial?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NorrisTrial</a>—@stobincbc
In addition, Ladha said her actions right after killing Reardon — placing his body under the steps and then going to the harbour with Kevin O'Brien to dispose of the weapon — didn't point to someone who knew what they were doing.
"A seasoned criminal wouldn't do that kind of stuff in my opinion," Ladha said.
In court Tuesday, the defence wrapped its questions for Ladha, and Crown attorney Hollett started cross-examination in the afternoon.
Hollett didn't dispute that Norris, 30, is mentally ill, but raised questions about whether she met the legal requirements for being declared not criminally responsible.
Hollett pointed to statements Norris made to police about what happened that night: that she walked home alone, stayed in her apartment reading a book, and knew nothing of the body outside her building.
Ladha said hearing those statements, which would prove to be untrue, didn't change his opinion.
He concluded that Norris was delusional at the time she killed Reardon to the extent that she didn't understand the consequences of what she was doing, that the "uncontrolled frenzied violence" was a result of her mental illness.
The diagnosis Ladha reached was that Norris was schizophrenic.
Hollett says could be put to anger. Ladha agrees, but says should go back into context. History of complaints, feeling helpless, angry about it, taking it by itself that statement would make him agree with Hollett, but in context he cannot <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NorrisTrial?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NorrisTrial</a>—@stobincbc
Hollett also asked Ladha if he reviewed any of the other statements given to police by people who were also with Norris — Kevin O'Brien, Jessica Peach, Jack Huffman, Shawn Pumphrey — to corroborate her statements to him.
He did not, Ladha said, but rather went on Norris's self-reporting of her state of mind at the time, as well as the history of her mental illness provided by her parents, and the statements Norris gave to police.
Follow along with the latest developments in the courtroom in our live blog.