Man charged in B.C. school stabbing still too psychotic, doctors say

Man charged in B.C. school stabbing still too psychotic, doctors say

No decision yet after review board holds new hearing to see if Gabriel Klein fit to stand trial

The man charged with killing an Abbotsford Senior Secondary student in November of 2016 still hears voices “everyday, every hour of the day,” the BC Review Board heard Thursday.

The review board held a second hearing Thursday morning into the psychiatric health of Gabriel Klein, who is charged with stabbing an Abbotsford student to death and severely injured another in November 2016. A decision will be released at a later date, likely within the next week.

Both Crown counsel and the defence agreed Klein remains unfit to take part in the trial, with the main disagreement being on the length of time needed before another hearing is held. Crown suggested the matter should reconvene in four months, while defence suggested six.

A judge determining this spring that he was unable to stand trial due to his inability to follow and participate in his own trial. Klein has been diagnosed with schizophrenia by his treating psychiatrist, Dr. Marcel Hediger, and the court had heard that he was afflicted by severe hallucinations and disorganized thinking.

He’s since been held at the Colony Farm Forensic Psychiatric Hospital in Coquitlam, where Thursday’s hearing was held.

The review board is tasked with determining if Klein’s mental fitness has improved.

The family of one of the victims was present for the hearing, but due to a publication ban cannot be named. However, a representative of the family, Dave Teixeira, spoke with reporters following the hearing about how the family is holding up.

An artist’s sketch depicts Gabriel Klein in court during his fitness hearing on April 19 at B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster. (Sketch by Sheila Allan)

Teixeira said the family is hoping the board doesn’t rush to come back to another hearing on Klein’s fitness for trial.

“It’s these necessary delays for Gabriel Klein to get healthy to attend a trial in the future that’s important. The family has no issue with that delay, it’s the unknown that’s the frustrating part — no one knows when this will actually end,” he said, adding that it is challenging to hear Klein speak at the hearing.

“It’s distressing. They can hear this voice; they can’t hear their daughter’s voice.”

Klein spoke during Thursday’s hearing, although he mumbled and sometimes slurred words, causing members of the BC Review Board to ask Klein to repeat himself. Klein said the voices he hears distracted him throughout Thursday’s hearing.

Crown lawyer Michaela Donnelly noted that “Mr. Klein came across as intelligent and able to articulate … far more than a yes or no answer.”

Klein also demonstrated some understanding of the court processes, saying that the judge’s role is “to prosecute me,” the Crown’s role was to “put me in jail” and his lawyer’s role was to “keep me out of jail.”

That, Donnelly said, demonstrated he could have some understanding of what is happening in court if he were to proceed with a trial.

Defence lawyer Martin Peters, however, countered with testimony from Hediger and Dr. Andrew Kolchak, an independent psychiatrist who also testified at Thursday’s hearing. Both told the court that while Klein is at times able to hold conversation, that ability fluctuates and likely would not hold for a lengthy trial.

As well, he pointed to Klein’s testimony that he was anxious to get on with the legal proceedings. Following the hearing, Peters said that if the case did proceed to trial, he would argue Klein was not criminally responsible for his actions.

Hediger and Kolchak were in agreement that Klein was not fit for trial, although the two differed on the severity of Klein’s psychosis and whether or not he was experiencing disorganized thinking.

While Hediger maintained his schizophrenia diagnosis and said he continued to believe Klein suffers from disorganized thinking, and thus can’t focus on tasks at hand or even holding a conversation, Kolchak came to different conclusions.

He said he was being conservative in not diagnosing schizophrenia, but said Klein does suffer from severe psychosis, and disagreed with Hediger on disorganized thinking. Klein had significant struggles with staying on track during three separate interviews, but Kolchak said it did not quite amount to a thought disorder.

Kolchak did note a significant presence of auditory hallucinations, something Hediger had said had declined since a hearing that took place in July. Kolchak noted the presence of three voices — which he named Lindsey, Ryan and Lucy — and said one of those voices commanded Klein to do things ranging from sitting down, standing up and taking showers to harming people or sexually assaulting people.

However, he said Klein himself expressed that he did not want to hurt anyone.

Those inconsistencies between Kolchak and Hediger became a focus for Crown counsel, with Donnelly suggesting Klein could be malingering or faking symptoms.

Kolchak noted that he did wonder himself about that, but said Klein’s psychosis was too severe to make that determination at this point. Klein, who previously refused medications, is now co-operating on that front, and doctors estimated it would take three to six months before he mentally stabilizes.

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