Toronto

Jury deciding fate of Eaton Centre shooter asks about not criminally responsible finding

Christopher Husbands, 29, is accused of shooting at a group of young men at the mall's food court on June 2, 2012, killing two of them and injuring several others.

Defence argued Christopher Husbands was in a PTSD-induced dissociative state when he opened fire

Christopher Husbands is charged with two counts of murder in the 2012 Eaton Centre shootings. (Alex Tavshunsky/CBC)

A jury considering the case of a man accused of killing two people after opening fire at Toronto's Eaton Centre six years ago has interrupted deliberations to ask about the circumstances under which the man could be found not criminally responsible.

Christopher Husbands, 29, is accused of shooting at a group of young men at the mall's food court on June 2, 2012, killing two of them and injuring several others.

Defence lawyers have told the court that Husbands should not be held criminally responsible as he was in a dissociative state as a result of his PTSD, which was triggered by an encounter with some of the men who had brutally beaten and stabbed him months earlier.

Crown lawyers have said the psychiatric experts who assessed Husbands agreed he had PTSD but were split on whether he could have been in a dissociative state when he fired 14 bullets.

On Sunday, the jury asked the Crown whether the physical act of shooting should be considered along with the outcome of each gunshot.

The defence said there is no way to know which shots caused death and which did not so they believe it's not worth going "down that rabbit hole."

Before the jury was allowed into the court, Husbands sat in the prisoner's box and took notes as the defence and Crown considered the jurors' questions.

Wearing reading glasses and a grey suit jacket, Husbands regularly glanced over at reporters and members of the public.

The jury also asked for clarity on whether they should find Husbands not criminally responsible if they find he could understand the nature and quality of just some of the gunshots he fired.

In closing submissions last week, prosecutors said doctors noted that the act of aiming and firing a gun is more complex than expected from someone experiencing dissociation.

Last week jurors were also shown stills from security video that shows Husbands holding a gun with his arms shoulder height, then at a 45-degree angle, then again higher up. Crown lawyers argued that Husbands was purposefully aiming the gun.

Jurors have asked to hear Husbands' testimony again, as well as statements from a doctor who spoke on Husbands' mental state.

Husbands has pleaded not guilty to two counts of second-degree murder, five counts of aggravated assault and one count each of criminal negligence causing bodily harm and reckless discharge of a firearm.

Jurors have heard Husbands faced a previous trial, but were not told the outcome or the reason for a second trial.