CALGARY — An Alberta judge has ruled that there is enough evidence to send a man accused in Calgary’s worst mass murder to trial.
Matthew de Grood, 23, sat quietly this week under the glaring gaze of friends and family of five young people who were stabbed to death during a house party last April.
De Grood showed little outward emotion when Justice J.D. Holmes ruled at the preliminary hearing that the Crown had made its case for a trial.
A date is expected to be set May 29.
“It’s a good step. The families are positive about how the preliminary inquiry went,” said Crown prosecutor Neil Wiberg.
“It’s very tough. There’s a publication ban on the evidence, so I can’t go into it, but just hearing details about the crime is very difficult for the families.”
The tiny courtroom was full all week. At times some of those watching the proceedings could be heard softly sobbing.
A psychiatric review has already determined that de Grood is fit to stand trial because he understands the charges against him and is able to communicate with his lawyer.
The Crown requested the mental assessment to determine if he could be found criminally responsible if convicted.
Lawyer Allan Fay said his client has been receiving treatment since his arrest. Fay isn’t ruling out a not criminally responsible defence.
A publication ban prohibits releasing any of the testimony heard during the court proceeding.
De Grood is charged with five counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Lawrence Hong, 27; Josh Hunter, 23; Kaitlin Perras, 23; Zackariah Rathwell, 21; and Jordan Segura, 22.
Police have not said what they think motivated the attack, but say de Grood was invited to the party and mingled with guests before violence broke out.
His father, Douglas de Grood, who is a Calgary police inspector, and his mother, Susan, were also in court this week.
“His parents are doing as well as can be expected. It’s tough for them listening to the evidence,” said Fay.
“I think it was difficult for everybody listening to the evidence, because what people heard was things that nobody had ever heard before.”
De Grood has been undergoing treatment at the Southern Alberta Forensic Psychiatry Centre since his arrest.
Fay said his client seems to be doing as well as can be expected, but it’s a little hard to say for sure.
“I know he’s stressed but he’s doing his best to keep a brave face.”
Fay estimates the trial could take two or three weeks.