A Lacombe teen who stabbed his stepmother was declared not guilty due to a mental disorder when he appeared in Red Deer provincial court Wednesday.
The “extraordinary” violent attack came out of the blue as his stepmother waited to drive him to school.
The subdued 17-year-old boy continued to stare directly ahead as Red Deer provincial court Judge David Plosz concurred with the recommendations of both the Crown and defense council by putting the adolescent’s fate in the hands of a provincial mental health board.
Plosz accepted the advice of lawyer Luke Kurata by seeking a 90-day assessment by the board instead of the standard 45 days. Kurata sought the longer period, saying his young client’s circumstances were exceptional.
Psychiatrists concluded the teen, who was charged with aggravated assault, had a temporary “acute psychotic episode” when he stabbed his stepmother in the neck after breakfast on April 12. This is the first such episode he is known to have experienced.
Kurata and Crown prosecutor Denis Huot agreed that there had been no tension between the teen and his step mom. The teen cannot be named under provisions of the youth justice act. There were also no warning signs of the attack that came after an ordinary family breakfast.
His client later explained to authorities that “voices” commanded him to attack his stepmother.
According to an agreed statement of facts, the normally passive youth came up behind the 39-year-old as she waited in the front doorway to take him to school. He put her into a headlock and stabbed her neck with a folding knife.
When the victim struggled to remove the blade, cutting her hand in the process, the teenager tore at her neck wound with his fingers to enlarge it. He dragged his stepmother back by the hair when she attempted to flee.
She later escaped to get help after the youth became distracted by the family dog.
Plosz agreed the circumstances were “extraordinary” because the youth was not previously known to suffer from schizophrenia or any mental disorder. Kurata believes a full physiological assessment, including brain scans, will be needed along with a psychological assessment.
The lawyer characterized the attack as completely out of his client’s character, and said it’s left the depressed teen feeling “terrible” remorse.
“He is absolutely committed to doing everything in his power to cooperate . . . so his life becomes wholly manageable and so nothing like this happens again.”
The Crown dropped attempted murder and several other charges aainst him. Plosz recommended the youth be transported immediately to Alberta Hospital Edmonton for the assessment.