Defence says accused in caseworker death needs assessment

Defence says accused in caseworker death needs assessment

CALGARY — A lawyer for an 18-year-old charged with killing his case worker at an assisted-living home says he doubts the young man is fit to stand trial.

Brandon Newman remains in custody charged with second-degree murder in the death of Deborah Onwu, who was stabbed at the home in southwest Calgary on Oct. 25.

The 18-year-old appeared in court Friday via a video link and said little.

Defence lawyer Allan Fay said he’s doubtful his client would be capable of properly instructing a lawyer for his defence.

“I’ve met with him several times,” Fay said outside court. “He strikes me as an extremely child-like individual.”

Fay asked to have the case put over until Monday, when Newman is to receive an initial assessment from a psychiatrist. That could result in Newman being sent to the Southern Alberta Forensic Psychiatric Centre.

“If that’s the case, he’ll go there for about 30 days for an assessment. They’ll come back and at that time we’ll determine if we can proceed,” Fay said.

Police have said it’s believed there was a verbal and physical confrontation between Newman and Onwu, and she was stabbed.

The union that represented Onwu is calling for higher safety standards and staffing levels to protect other workers.

Lou Arab, a spokesman with the Canadian Union of Public Employees, said in a statement that Newman has “complex health needs and a violent history” and required two-on-one care.

Another worker was at the home the night Onwu was killed, he said, but that worker was on a different floor dealing with another client.

“(Onwu) was working alone and she should not have been,” said Arab.

Court records show Newman was charged with assault in August. He was to appear in court on that matter later this month.

Wood’s Homes, which operates mental-health facilities and programs for children and families throughout Alberta, said in a statement Friday that it can’t comment on details about its clients.

“Wood’s Homes takes its responsibility in promoting a safe workplace very seriously. We are working with our staff to address the issues stemming from this very sad incident.”

It said it is conducting its own investigation and co-operating with police and the province’s Occupational Health and Safety unit.

About 10 of Onwu’s friends, some care workers, gathered at court Friday wearing white T-shirts with Onwu’s picture on it and “Justice for Debbie” written on the back.

“We believe that her death could have been prevented if the safety and the security measures were put in place,” said Rebecca Opoku-Ameyaw.

“This wouldn’t happen and we wouldn’t be standing here today.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 1, 2019.

— Follow @BillGraveland on Twitter

Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Red Deer musician Curtis Phagoo (Contributed photo/Cory Michaud).
Red Deer musicians welcome $2-M in grants to help live music, but would have preferred a relief program

The money is for future projects and can’t be used for retroactive expenses

There were six additional deaths across Alberta reported over the past 24 hours, bringing the death toll to 1,926 since the beginning of the pandemic. (File photo)
Alberta’s health care system under ‘significant stress,’ says AHS president

The province’s health care system is currently under more stress than at… Continue reading

The Red Deer Rebels have acquired goaltender Connor Ungar from the Brandon Wheat Kings, the team announced Monday. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Red Deer Rebels acquire goaltender Connor Ungar, forward Liam Keeler in separate trades

The Red Deer Rebels have acquired goaltender Connor Ungar from the Brandon… Continue reading

(Advocate file photo)
Man charged following police chases last summer is sentenced

Alexander Michael Talbot sentenced to 22 months in prison

COVID-19 test kit. (Black Press Media file photo)
Red Deer businesses can order COVID testing kits from the Chamber

Kits are being provided through a partnership with the Alberta government

Mayor Rick Bonnett. (Screenshot)
WATCH: Ponoka council calls on gov’t to support rural small businesses

Ponoka council is calling on the provincial government to increase funding to… Continue reading

Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole holds a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Liberals silent on nature of Fortin probe or who will replace him on vaccine campaign

OTTAWA — The Liberal government is scrambling to reassure Canadians that the… Continue reading

A woman attends a vigil in front of the hospital where Joyce Echaquan died in Joliette, Que., on Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Hospital staff testify today at Quebec coroner’s inquiry into death of Joyce Echaquan

TROIS-RIVIÈRES, Que. — Medical staff from a Quebec hospital where Joyce Echaquan… Continue reading

Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons in Ottawa on February 17, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Ottawa looking for 2,000 new energy auditors to get home retrofit program going

OTTAWA — The federal government is looking to train 2,000 more people… Continue reading

A person waits outside a COVID-19 testing clinic in Montreal, Sunday, May 9, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Ontario opens shots to 18+, Quebec opens drive-thru, as COVID vaccine efforts expand

Quebec is opening a drive-thru vaccine clinic at its busiest airport and… Continue reading

Calgary Flames players celebrate the team's overtime win against the Vancouver Canucks during an NHL hockey game in Vancouver, B.C., Sunday, May 16, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Lindholm OT winner gives Flames 6-5 win over Canucks despite blowing four-goal lead

VANCOUVER — In a game with little to play for besides pride,… Continue reading

In this photo taken on May 13, 2021, Russia's performer, Manizha, smiles during an interview after rehearsing at the Eurovision Song Contest at Ahoy arena in Rotterdam, Netherlands. For many, the stage and global television audience of millions is a chance to express messages of inclusion, strength and positivity. Manizha has a message of strength for women in her song whose lyrics include the lines: "Every Russian Woman. Needs to know. You're strong enough to bounce against the wall." (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
Eurovision Song Contest returns despite coronavirus pandemic

ROTTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) — Pounding beats? Check. Uplifting lyrics? Check. Huge, backlit… Continue reading

Serena Williams of the United States returns the ball to Italy's Lisa Pigato during their match at the Emilia Romagna Open tennis tournament, in Parma, Monday, May 17, 2021. Serena Williams earned her first victory in more than three months by beating 17-year-old qualifier Lisa Pigato 6-3, 6-2 in the first round of the Emilia-Romagna Open. Williams accepted a wild-card invitation for the Parma tournament after losing her opening match at the Italian Open last week. (AP Photo/Marco Vasini)
Serena Williams posts 1st victory in more than 3 months

PARMA, Italy (AP) — Serena Williams earned her first victory in more… Continue reading

In this Oct. 21, 2014 file photo, people pass an AT&T store in New York's Times Square. AT&T will combine its media operations that include CNN HBO, TNT and TBS in a $43 billion deal with Discovery, the owner of lifestyle networks including the Food Network and HGTV. The deal announced Monday, May 17, 2021, would create a separate media company as households increasingly abandon cable and satellite TV, looking instead at Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Facebook, TikTok and YouTube. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)
AT&T, Discovery join media brands as cord-cutting encroaches

NEW YORK (AP) — AT&T will combine its massive media operations that… Continue reading

Most Read