Anne Norris saw Marcel Reardon as threat, says psychologist
Randy Penney's report says Norris believed Reardon would break into her apartment and kill her
The registered psychologist who interviewed Anne Norris over two days in December 2017 and had her recount the night she killed Marcel Reardon says she's not a psychopath.
Randy Penney also told the Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court that Norris remembered the events of the night that Marcel Reardon died as if it was a dream, but also described being afraid.
Whether or not the lion is there, they believe the lion is there.- Randy Penney, registered psychologist
"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 has admitted to killing Reardon on May 9, 2016, by hitting him repeatedly in the head with a hammer. She's also admitted to placing his body under the steps of Harbour View Apartments, and dropping the hammer inside a borrowed backpack and tossing that into the harbour.
Her defence says she's not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder, while the Crown argues Norris knew the consequences of her actions and planned Reardon's death.
Penney was asked to do a psychological assessment by Dr. Nizar Ladha, who was completing Norris's psychiatric assessment for the defence.
"When you spend time with someone who's a psychopath, it's clear," Penney said during cross-examination by Crown Jeff Summers.
Over those two days he spent with Norris, Penney said he did a number of tests to guide his findings, findings which he indicated suggests a diagnosis of schizophrenia, but could point to other conditions, as well.
He determined that Norris is not a psychopath, but suggested that at the time she killed Reardon she was in a "highly dissociated and possibly psychotic state."
Norris also showed symptoms of anxiety similar to a trauma victim, Penney's report states.
During his testimony Thursday, Penney talked about people who have suffered trauma, real or not, and the symptoms they exhibit.
"Whether or not the lion is there, they believe the lion is there," Penney said, describing behaviour exhibited by people suffering from anxiety and PTSD, which would describe Norris, he said.
"Our perceived reality is our reality," he would later state.
If they believe there is a threat, some presictable behaviour. They’ll be vigilant; read into situations. Example: person gets on a bus. Most people look up at new person. But someone with trauma would take that eye contact differently, be vigilant <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NorrisTrial?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NorrisTrial</a>—@stobincbc
'She was mortified ... she was panicked'
At the very end of his two days with Norris, Penney asked her to tell him about the events the night she killed Reardon.
Norris described getting alcohol for Reardon, who eventually became "very drunk," walking out into traffic at one point and almost getting hit by a car.
In telling of her version of events, Norris came to believe that Reardon had nowhere to stay that night, and was hoping to sleep at her apartment.
They ended up in a cab outside her apartment, but she told Penney she had "no intention of letting him in."
Penney said when Norris described her fear that Reardon would break into her apartment and kill her, she became anxious.
It was at that point in their interview that Penney noted Norris was having difficulty talking about it, and suggested she switch to third person.
'She was mortified. Mortified!'
"She remembered going outside to deal with him in order to ensure her safety. During the attack, she recalled oddly being very calm. She stated: 'No. She was very calm. It was as in a dream. It didn't seem real to her.'"
According to Penney's report after the attack, Norris felt panicked, and "surprised at how much damage she had done to him."
At that point of the retelling Norris was having difficulty going ahead, Penney suggested she switch to 3rd person. Penney says not uncommon technique <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NorrisTrial?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NorrisTrial</a>—@stobincbc
"'She was mortified. Mortified! She was panicked. My God! What to do? She must hide it from everyone No one must know what she had done. But she was unable to do this very well. It was only temporary,'" the report states.
Penney did not have access to Norris's medical or police records when she was interviewed, but did have detailed documents from Gary and Florence Norris, her parents, as well as a brief conversation with Dr. Ladha to give him context of the case, which Penney said was sufficient information for his purposes.
Penney calls that “telltale signs” of people with stress disorders <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NorrisTrial?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NorrisTrial</a>—@stobincbc
Penney said Norris's childhood was not the typical history he's used to hearing from incarcerated individuals. There are always exceptions, he told the court, but Norris's background seemed normal.
Working with Corrections Canada, and for years with the John Howard Society, Penney has done hundreds of assessments.
"I was asked to be a fresh pair of eyes, I guess," he told the 12-person jury.
During testimony, he said her worry of being attacked in her bed was consistent with previous delusional behaviour contained in her histories.
Norris overall scored very low on the psychopathy scale — with nine points out of a possible 40, with him scoring liberally. A score of 30 or higher is needed for psychopathy.
Penney did note that his only finding was for a generalized anxiety disorder, but he did note her history of believing she had been victimized, an element he thought important in the case.
'We don't say cure'
Earlier on Thursday, Day 12 of the trial, the cross-examination of Dr. Kellie LeDrew concluded.
LeDrew previously told the court she began seeing Norris in May 2012 and after a few months, diagnosed Norris as bipolar with psychotic symptoms, with that psychosis making her delusional.
LeDrew testified Thursday that there were times she saw Norris and would say she was in remission while on medication — meaning the absence of acute symptoms and functioning well.
"We don't say cure, we say in recovery, we say in remission," LeDrew said.
During cross-examination, LeDrew also said she stands by her diagnosis of bipolar disorder with psychotic symptoms.
Rosellen Sullivan and Jerome Kennedy are representing Norris at the trial. Crown prosecutors are Iain Hollett and Jeff Summers.
Justice William Goodridge is presiding, and told the jury of six men and six women that, as of Thursday, the final summations are now expected to happen on Feb. 19.
Follow along with the latest developments in the courtroom in our live blog.