Psychiatrists in the spotlight at murder trial

Psychiatrists with conflicting opinions faced tough cross-examinations at the start of the third week of the trial of a Consort man who is charged with shooting his brother.

Psychiatrists with conflicting opinions faced tough cross-examinations at the start of the third week of the trial of a Consort man who is charged with shooting his brother.

Dr. Kenneth Hashman and Dr. Vijay Singh, both forensic psychiatrists, took the stand Monday in Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench before Justice Kirk Scissons.

John Wayne Mock, 36, of Consort, faces a second degree murder charge in the shooting death of his brother Timothy Mock.

Hashman was finishing up his testimony from last week. The head of forensic psychiatry services for Alberta was last questioned Nov. 20. Monday was his cross-examination by the Crown.

Crown prosecutor Anders Quist, focused his questioning on what Hashman hadn’t included in his opinion on the mental condition of John Mock.

Hashman had previously testified that John Mock has bipolar disorder Type 1 and was in a manic state with psychotic features at the time of the Feb. 22, 2012, shooting. Quist asked why Hashman didn’t consider John Mock’s drug use and if it would lead to a cannabis-induced psychosis.

In Singh’s report on the mental state of John Mock, he concluded that John Mock was in a cannabis-induced psychosis at the time. Singh said in the weeks leading up to the shooting John Mock had admitted to smoking between six and eight joints of a combination of marijuana and hashish per day, as well as consuming varying amounts of alcohol – as many as 50 beers the weekend before the incident, or as few as two beers on Feb. 22, 2012.

Singh, a psychiatrist with Alberta Hospital Edmonton, was called in by the Crown to evaluate John Mock’s mental state in August, 2013. Being significantly chronologically removed from the incident, Singh relied on Crown supplied background, personal interviews with John Mock and the interviews and observations of staff. He concluded that John Mock could have been suffering from acute intoxication at the time and his only diagnosis was chronic alcohol and cannabis misuse.

Singh also testified that John Mock’s paranoia, the belief the government was monitoring him through his phone, could be explained by his prolonged cannabis use.

Much of Quist’s cross-examination of Hashman relied on questions stemming from Singh’s evaluation of John Mock.

In the events surrounding the shooting, John Mock had gone to get a car to take his brother to help, but had backed in to a building. Singh used this and a 911 phone call where John Mock told the operator his brother had been shot to say that John Mock had an understanding of what had happened to his brother and that speaks to his criminal responsibility. Prior testimony said John Mock thought his brother was a clone and that was why he shot Timothy Mock. After the shooting John Mock phoned 911, his sister and a friend, he removed Timothy’s shirt to inspect him for wounds, checked his pulse and started CPR. Singh said all this contributes to an understanding that this was John Mock’s brother who was shot.

Defence counsel Darren Mahoney, of Calgary, grilled Singh on his findings. He focused his cross-examination on why Singh relied on Crown provided background material and his own interviews with John Mock a year-and-a-half after the incident. Singh maintained his position that at the time of the shooting John Mock was suffering from acute intoxication. Mahoney questioned Singh about Mocks behaviour in the first few weeks after, citing hallucinations, a suicide attempt by drowning himself in the toilet bowl and irrational behaviour. Singh said these could have been caused by both the withdrawal symptoms he would be experiencing from not having alcohol or cannabis anymore and because of the guilt and his irrational behaviour could be explained by the blow to the psyche because of the incident.

Thorughout his testimony Hashman maintained John Mock had bipolar disorder type 1, while Singh said it is possible, but not likely and the acute intoxication would better explain the transient psychotic symptom that lead to Tim’s death.

Testimony went late into Monday night, with Hashman being recalled as the defence’s surrebuttal. Hashman restated his opinion, which differs from Singhs saying John Mock had signs of psychosis and mania, which could be explained by a diagnosis bipolar disorder.

The trial resumes Tuesday morning.

mcrawford@bprda.wpengine.com

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