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Accused found unfit for murder trial over B.C. school stabbing

UPDATED: 9:40 a.m., Sept. 13

The decision to hold off a man’s second-degree murder and aggravated assault trial for at least four more months “isn’t surprising” but leaves the family of one of the victims “on a bit of a hamster wheel,” a family representative says.

Gabriel Klein, accused of killing one student and seriously injuring another in a stabbing at Abbotsford Secondary School, is unfit to stand trial, the B.C. Review Board has found in a disposition this week that offered nothing on the board’s deliberation on the matter.

“That was quite evident. The challenge the family has is they’re almost on a bit of a hamster wheel for the next little while, where this will now be in January … to see if Klein can get healthier. It just means the family has to come back in four months and then maybe three to six months after that and then maybe a year after that. There’s really no closure,” said Dave Teixeira, representative of one victim’s family.

“This is only phase one. All these hearings have nothing to do with guilt or innocence. This is everything to do with just is he ready for trial? … It’s conceivable that he would never get to trial. It’s also conceivable that he would never get to trial in 20 years. So it’s a very, very frustrating process.”

Teixeira noted there was some understanding from the family of the victim that Klein is seriously mentally ill.

“As much as it’s frustrating, it makes sense that someone who’s going to stand trial needs to be able to assist in their defence. There’s really no issue with that,” Teixeira said.

“I think what the family, and certainly myself and others get frustrated [with] is how difficult the process is. … It’s just a strange process. There’s no guide to it; B.C. Review Board’s own website doesn’t make it easy.”

Teixeira also sees some positive out of last week’s hearing, which deliberated on whether or not Klein was malingering, or faking or exaggerating his symptoms.

“They’re not just taking his word for it, they’re not just looking passively by. They’re actually being quite inquisitive. And to me that shows that a system is working.”

ORIGINAL: 8:30 p.m., Sept. 11

The man accused of killing one student and seriously injuring another in a stabbing at an Abbotsford high school is unfit to stand trial, the B.C. Review Board has found.

But Gabriel Klein will return before the board for another hearing on the matter on Jan. 15, 2019, according to Dave Teixeira, spokesperson for the family of one of the victims. The decision has not been publicly released, but Teixeira said it will be released on Wednesday.

READ MORE: Man charged in Abbotsford school stabbing still too psychotic, doctors say

The ruling comes with little surprise — neither Crown nor defence argued that Klein is currently unfit to stand trial. That arose from evidence from two separate doctors, both of whom indicated Klein was not fit.

However, the doctors differed in their diagnoses. Klein’s treating psychiatrist at Colony Farm, where his hearing was held and where Klein is being held, told the B.C. Review Board that Klein was experiencing disorganized thinking. That thought disorder effectively makes it too difficult for Klein to concentrate on proceedings around him, Dr. Marcel Hediger said in last week’s hearing.

RELATED: Man charged in Abbotsford school stabbing found unfit to stand trial

He also diagnosed Klein with schizophrenia. While an independent doctor, Andrew Kolchak, focused more on Klein’s “severe” psychosis — disagreeing that Klein’s elusive mind was to the extent of disorganized thinking — he was more “conservative” in not also diagnosing Klein with schizophrenia.

Teixeira, too, noted some understanding from the family of the victim that Klein is seriously mentally ill.

Where the Crown and defence differed, however, was when the Review Board should reconvene. Crown suggested the matter return in four months — compared with the defence’s and Colony Farm’s suggestion of six months — pointing largely to the question of malingering, or faking one’s symptoms.

RELATED: No decision on Abbotsford school stabbing suspect’s mental fitness for trial

Kolchak noted in the hearing last week that there was some chance that Klein could be malingering, and there are tests psychiatrists can run to determine that. But he also noted that Klein’s psychosis was too severe at this time to provide an accurate result for that test.

Hediger told the board that Klein, who had previously refused medications, was now complying and taking those medications. But he said it could take three to six months for Klein’s mental state to stabilize, forming much of the basis for the defence’s suggestion of six months before another hearing.

Following the hearing, Teixeira addressed reporters, saying the family does want to see the matter move forward. But he was cautious about rushing into another hearing, before Klein’s had a chance to stabilize enough to head back to court.

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Dustin Godfrey | Reporter

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Dustin Godfrey

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