A former Red Deer city councillor who was beaten to death by his own son had reached out for help just days before the attack.
On the morning of Saturday, Nov. 3, 2012, Timothy Bruce Guilbault, 58, drove from his home in Calgary to a family cabin west of Bowden to meet his son, Aaron Timothy Guilbault.
Tim Guilbault’s body was found two days later, inside the entry to the cabin. His son, now 33, was arrested that same day and is now on trial for second-degree murder before Justice Monica Bast in Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench.
The question before the court is not whether Aaron Guilbault killed his father, but whether he can be held criminally responsible for his actions, says defence counsel Patty MacNaughton.
She opened her case on Wednesday morning with expert testimony from forensic psychiatrist Sergio Santana, who works at the Southern Alberta Forensic Psychiatry Centre and lectures in psychiatry at the University of Calgary.
Santana assessed the accused man twice in 2013, to determine whether he was fit to stand trial and again to determine if he suffered from a mental disorder that would render him not criminally responsible for his actions.
Santana testified that Timothy Guilbault wrote him a letter seeking help for his son, dated Oct. 29, 2012.
Santana said Timothy and other members of the Guilbault family had concerns about Aaron’s mental health, noting a pattern of psychosis that had developed over the previous two years.
However, Santana said he could take no action because the hospital where he works deals strictly with assessment and treatment of people referred through the justice system.
Guilbault was certified and admitted to the Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre psychiatric wing in December 2011 and was later admitted to the Centennial Centre in Ponoka, but was released by a review panel, said Santana.
He later diagnosed the young man with schizophrenia, telling the court that the disorder likely began to take hold while Aaron was in his early 20s.
Aaron believed he was either an angel or the Messiah, sent by God to save the world, and that his father was a force of evil, standing in his way.
While he did not see his father as inhuman, he did perceive him to be evil, said Santana.
Aaron was aware that he had killed his father but was unable to understand at the time that what he did was wrong, he said.
Crown prosecutor Maurice Collard challenged Santana’s assessment, pointing out that Santana had described Aaron as highly intelligent and asking whether he had faked mental illness to avoid prosecution.
Santana replied that Aaron did not meet any of the tests for malingering and that his response to medications confirmed his illness. It was only as the medication began to have an affect that Aaron came to realize the gravity of his offence and began to grieve the loss of his father, resulting in a bout of depression, he said.
The trial continues today, with the Crown and defence to make their closing arguments.
Raised in Central Alberta and employed for a time at Nova Chemicals, Timothy Guilbault was elected to Red Deer city council in 1986 and served three terms. He resigned in 1995 to take a new job in Calgary.