Nova Scotia

Man who admitted killing mother and grandparents to learn fate in new year

A Nova Scotia Supreme Court Justice has reserved his decision in the case of Codey Hennigar, 32, who’s admitted to killing his mother and maternal grandparents. The bodies of Bill and Ida Ward and their daughter Ann were found in the burned-out remains of the elder Wards’ home on the Old Guysborough Road in Goffs on Jan. 7, 2015.

Crown, defence say Codey Hennigar should be found not criminally responsible due to schizophrenia

Codey Reginald Hennigar argues he should be found not criminally responsible for the 2015 deaths of his mother and two grandparents. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)

A Nova Scotia Supreme Court judge will rule in the new year whether a 32-year-old man who admitted he killed his mother and maternal grandparents is criminally responsible for the murders.

The bodies of Bill and Ida Ward and their daughter Ann were found on Jan. 7, 2015, in the burned-out remains of the elder Wards' home on the Old Guysborough Road in Goffs, N.S.

Codey Hennigar has admitted to the killings, but the prosecution and defence say he is not criminally responsible for the three second-degree murder charges he faces.

His Halifax murder trial before Justice Patrick Murray heard from three forensic psychiatrists this week. All agreed that Hennigar had suffered from schizophrenia and was in the grips of a psychotic episode when he bludgeoned his three family members, then set the house on fire.

"Words cannot capture the horror of what happened on Jan. 7," Crown prosecutor Mark Heerema said in his closing arguments Friday. He said the deaths have left a void in the family.

'Fell through the cracks'

Heerema said Hennigar "fell through the cracks," because even though his behaviour in the weeks before the killings raised suspicions among some family members and other people, he refused treatment.

Hennigar was arrested shortly after the burning house was discovered. He was driving his grandmother's car and rammed two police vehicles before he could be apprehended.

He's been held in the East Coast Forensic Hospital since shortly after his arrest and has been undergoing treatment for his mental condition. Psychiatrists said they noted gradual improvement since treatment began.

Hennigar sat quietly beside his lawyer throughout the trial. As he was led from court Friday morning by sheriff's deputies, he waved at a woman in the public gallery who waved back. Family members have attended the entire hearing.

Hennigar will return to court Jan. 31 to learn his fate. If, as the lawyers recommend, he's found not criminally responsible, he'll be returned to the forensic hospital and be dealt with by the province's criminal code review board.

CBC News reporter Blair Rhodes live blogged from the courtroom.

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