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No new freedoms for man who killed five at Calgary house party while delusional

Last Updated Sep 16, 2020 at 2:38 pm EDT

EDMONTON — The Alberta Review Board says a mentally ill man who stabbed and killed five young people at a Calgary house party has been making progress but will not be going into a group home in the next year.

Matthew de Grood, who is now 29, was found not criminally responsible for the 2014 killings of Zackariah Rathwell, Jordan Segura, Kaitlin Perras, Josh Hunter and Lawrence Hong, because he was suffering from schizophrenia at the time.

A trial heard that the university student believed the devil was talking to him and a war was about to begin, signalling the end of the world, when he arrived at the party, which was being held to mark the end of the school year.

De Grood, a patient at Alberta Hospital Edmonton, appeared at his annual review board hearing last week to assess his treatment and whether he should be allowed any increased privileges or freedoms.

The board released its decision Wednesday, saying that at this point, increased privileges are out of the question.

“Having considered all the evidence provided at the hearing … the board in a majority decision finds Mr. de Grood to be a significant threat to the safety of the public,” writes board chair Gerald Hawranik.

The board also rejected recommendations to allow de Grood travel of up to one week within Alberta and unsupervised passes in Edmonton.

“The board in a majority decision does not grant these two privileges. The reports indicate that even if Mr. de Grood does take his medication as prescribed, he may suffer mild to moderate relapses because schizophrenia is a naturally relapsing illness,” said Hawranik.

“The reports also indicate that once Mr. de Grood develops a sufficient intensity of psychotic symptoms, it is harder to predict at what stage of the relapse he would likely commit violence.”

A psychiatrist treating de Grood told the hearing that he has made progress but any new freedoms should be granted slowly and that a group home situation was unlikely.

Dr. Santoch Rai said de Grood has stayed overnight at his parents’ home in Edmonton seven times and has taken hospital transportation to scheduled appointments in the city. But he has not yet taken public transit or transitioned to a group home, largely due to a change in his anti-psychotic medication from an oral version to one that is injected.

The board said de Grood needs to be supervised and a group-home setting would be unsuitable.

“Mr. de Grood remains a risk to any staff at any 24-hour supervised group home. Staff members are not clinically trained nor are they required to be as diligent as hospital staff,” said the report.

“According to the reports, deterioration in his mental condition could go undetected and he could relapse and develop psychosis.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 16, 2020.

— By Bill Graveland in Calgary

The Canadian Press