Alberta Court of Appeal has overturned the murder conviction of a mentally ill Consort-area man who shot his brother to death in 2012.
In its decision released on Monday, the three-judge Court of Appeal panel says the evidence “clearly established the defence of not criminally responsible by reason of a mental disorder on a balance of probabilities, and it was unreasonable to have concluded otherwise.”
The judges set aside the second-degree murder verdict reached by a jury in November 2013 following a trial in Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench. The conviction carries an automatic life sentence with no chance of parole for between 10 and 25 years.
In sentencing, Justice Kirk Sisson set John Wayne Mock’s parole eligibility at 11 years, saying he took into account Mock’s mental health problems, remorse and his attempts to resuscitate his brother immediately after the shooting.
Family members were critical of the conviction, saying Mock was clearly mentally ill, and the case should never have gone to trial.
During the trial, the court heard that after a brief round of fisticuffs Mock, then 35, followed his fleeing brother into the master bedroom of their Consort-area home and shot him through the shoulder with a .45-calibre revolver. Timothy James Mock, 33, spun around after the first bullet was fired and was shot two more times on Feb. 22, 2012.
Mock’s lawyer Darren Mahoney argued at the time that Mock was not criminally responsible for the shooting as a result of a mental disorder, telling members of the jury of six women and five men that, if they could not accept that defence, they had the option of finding his client guilty of manslaughter.
Evidence was presented in court that John Mock suffered from bipolar disorder and his younger brother, the victim, also had serious mental health problems, and was cared for by his older brother. A number of people who had contact with John Mock before the shooting had described him as paranoid and unwell and his mental health had been affected by the death of his mother a month earlier and his father’s illness.
At one point, Mock believed he was being monitored through his cellphone by the CIA and FBI and that his younger brother was a clone.
Three days after the shooting, Mock had tried to drown himself in a Remand Centre toilet and was taken to hospital.
The appeal court dismissed opinions from Crown experts that Mock was not suffering from a major mental disorder at the time of the offence.
“The central issue is whether the appellant as psychotic at the time of the offence. With respect, the evidence that he was then psychotic was overwhelming.”