Lawyers say Abbotsford man not criminally responsible for wife’s death

The family of a murdered Abbotsford woman wept openly in court today as the man who killed her read an apology letter.

The body of a woman was found in the aftermath of a house fire on Lefeuvre Road on Nov. 11

The body of a woman was found in the aftermath of a house fire on Lefeuvre Road on Nov. 11

The family of a murdered Abbotsford woman wept openly in court today as the man who killed her read an apology letter.

Both Crown and defence lawyers are asking that the man, who is the husband of the deceased woman, be found not criminally responsible for her death due to mental illness. The couple cannot be named due to a publication ban.

The man pleaded for the woman’s family, who wore badges with her picture, to forgive him, saying he wished he could turn back time. He sobbed as he hung his head to read the crumpled piece of paper in his hand.

He described the woman as his “soulmate.”

“All of you who have known us knew how much we loved each other … All of the tears I have shed are endless.”

The man, who also had family members in the courtroom, was due to go on trial for the second-degree murder of his 41-year-old wife, whose body was found in the aftermath of a fire at a home on Lefeuvre Road on Nov. 11, 2009.

Crown prosecutor Wayne Norris and defence lawyer Deanne Gaffar were in agreement with expert reports that although the man killed his wife, he suffered from several mental illness – including psychosis and delusions – before, during and after the incident.

He should not be held criminally responsible for his actions, they said during their closing submissions today. This made a trial unnecessary.

The court heard that the man had been delusional and paranoid before the day in question. Gaffar said he made two reports to police in October 2009 that he was being stalked and harassed by someone associated with the Hells Angels.

Police were unable to find any such connection, she said.

Gaffar said he also became consumed by fear for his and his family’s safety.

She said admissions from family, friends, a priest and mental health professionals corroborated that he was not mentally stable in the days leading up to the incident and in the months afterward.

On the morning of Nov. 11, 2009, he believed either that his wife was the anti-Christ or that she had the devil growing inside her stomach. He shot her three times with a rifle, which killed her, Gaffar said.

He then removed two children from the home, ages 10 and 15, before setting the house on fire. He fled to a church in Langley, where he spoke with a priest and then turned himself in to police.

Two mental health professionals hired by the defence and a third one hired by the Crown were all in agreement that the man suffered from severe mental illness. This included “psycho-defective disorder with depressive sub type.”

Gaffar said the man’s perception of reality was impaired and he was incapable of “appreciating the nature and quality of the act … or of knowing that it was wrong.”

“This is a tragic and devastating case where a loving husband has become mentally ill and killed the person he loved immeasurably,” she said.

Justice Brian Joyce is scheduled to present his decision on Friday, Feb. 11.

If the man is found not criminally responsible, he will have a hearing before a review board to determine whether he receives an absolute discharge, a discharge with conditions or detention in a psychiatric hospital.