By Daniela Germano in Edmonton
An Alberta judge has found a man guilty of manslaughter in the death of his one-year-old son as well as of assaulting his young daughter.
The man’s lawyer argued in court that the father should be found not criminally responsible for his son’s death in November 2019.
Rory Ziv argued that a severe sleep disorder put the man from Fort Saskatchewan, Alta., in a state of automatism, which made him incapable of understanding his actions when he killed his son and injured his daughter, who was five at the time.
There is a publication ban on identifying the girl because she is a minor.
The man testified at trial that he has no memory of hurting his children, saying he fell asleep on the couch while caring for them. He said he dreamt he was being attacked and awoke to find that he injured his children.
A sleep expert also testified at trial after examining the man two years following the boy’s death. Dr. Colin Shapiro said he found “thumbprints” of parasomnia, a disorder in which people do things while asleep that they are unaware of, such as sleepwalking.
Shapiro testified he saw multiple arousals during the man’s deep sleep.
The man was initially charged with second-degree murder, but the prosecution asked the judge to consider a verdict of manslaughter instead.
Crown attorney Sandra Christensen-Moore said at trial earlier this month that evidence suggested the man was intoxicated at the time of the attack, which would affect his ability to form the intent needed for second-degree murder.
In announcing his verdict Wednesday, Justice John Henderson said it was more likely that the accused was suffering from severe withdrawal symptoms from his opioid addiction and lashed out at his children.
Court heard that the man has a history of substance abuse with cocaine, alcohol, heroin and prescription opioids. He admitted to self-medicating his back pain with heroin and illegally obtained Percocet.
Henderson said the man got into an argument with is partner the day of his son’s death and threw a plate in the woman’s direction because they did not have enough money for him to buy cigarettes.
“Certainly there is no doubt on the evidence that (the man) was having serious sleep difficulties and serious back pain at the time of these events,” the judge said.
“I’m also satisfied that the evidence is very clear that he was experiencing other stressors, including financial issues and relationship issues. He was also experiencing significant symptoms of heroin withdrawal.”
But Henderson said the defence was not able to prove that the man was in a state of automatism when he attacked his children.
“While I am satisfied that there is some evidence that could potentially support the conclusion of automatism, when I consider the totality of the evidence, I find it is not possible to come to that conclusion.”
The father is to be sentenced at a later date.
The judge said the man, who was prone to explosive outbursts, adapted his story about what happened the day of his son’s death as a way to rationalize his behaviour.
Henderson said such rationalization was most evident in the “evolving story” of the man’s dream of being teleported and attacked by a shadow creature during which he was trying to protect his children.
“This story did not exist for more than one year after (the boy’s) death and it only began evolving thereafter.
“The story was crafted to satisfy a narrative that would lead to a conclusion of automatism.”
Henderson noted that a forensic psychologist testified that the man had unresolved anger issues.
The judge said the man became overwhelmed by his situation and burst out in an aggressive and disproportionate manner when striking his children.
“I conclude that this explanation is for the attack is much more likely than the conclusion of automatism.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 29, 2022.
Red Deer South MLA lambastes Premier Kenney for weighing in on the race to replace him
Article submitted by Red Deer South MLA Jason Stephan
Kenney, the time for you to be quiet is now
When you are a departing leader of a political party, one of your responsibilities is to build unity. One way of doing so is to stay out of the leadership race to replace you. Jason Kenney promised he was not going to be a “color commentator” in the race, and then proceeded to become one. Kenney misrepresented a platform commitment of Danielle Smith —a leading candidate—sowing division and creating disunity.
While misrepresenting the ideas of others and then attacking the straw men manufactured out of the misrepresentation may be standard practice in a junior high school debate, it’s dishonest and disrespectful.
Kenney called the Alberta Sovereignty Act “nuts” and “nuttier than a squirrel turd”. Is that going to produce unity? In his leadership review, when he called those who disagreed with him “bugs”, “kooks” and “lunatics”, how did that work out
Kenney says the Sovereignty Act would make Alberta the “laughingstock” of Canada. Perhaps we already are.
When Albertans held a provincial referendum and rejected equalization, who did Trudeau appoint as environment minister? He chose Steven Guilbeault, the Greenpeace activist, arrested for climbing on Ralph Klein’s roof when he was away, frightening Klein’s wife who was home alone. I bet Trudeau thought that was funny.
What does Trudeau do with Kenney’s sternly worded letters? Perhaps they are trophies he hangs on the walls.
The premier of Quebec said one of his favorite things about Canada is equalization, so what progress has Kenney made on equalization? None.
The Sovereignty Act seeks to do what Quebec does. Is Quebec a laughingstock?
Kenney says the Sovereignty Act would be a “body blow” to Alberta jobs and the economy and “draw massive investment away”. Isn’t that going to be the result of Trudeau’s new “discussion paper?”
This paper was released in August with a submission deadline in September. It proposes either a new cap-and-trade or carbon tax only on oil and gas development, disproportionately punishing Alberta while sparing Quebec and other provinces that Trudeau bribes for power.
Kenney should consider stopping his straw man attacks and start focusing on Ottawa where he came from. No straw man is required as Ottawa is already responsible for driving away hundreds of billions in investment out of Alberta and thousands of Alberta jobs with it along with more “body blows” to come if we get this imminent new cap and trade or new carbon tax imposed on our natural resources.
Is Kenney working on his latest sternly worded letter?
But wait, under section 92A of Canada’s constitution, isn’t Alberta supposed to have jurisdiction over the development of our natural resources? Isn’t Trudeau again seeking to do indirectly what he cannot do directly? Isn’t this a sneaky,
backdoor, constitutional trojan horse? Isn’t this what the Sovereignty Act is intended to address, to assert constitutional boundaries that Ottawa continually seeks to circumvent, trespass, attack and undermine? When Ottawa abuses its
power, isn’t the Sovereignty Act to be a check and balance?
Yes, a good idea, improperly applied can be detrimental, and if that is the version that Kenney wants to manufacture, attack, and fearmonger, that is his choice.
Properly applied the Sovereignty Act will benefit Alberta, counteracting the commercial uncertainty and chaos from Ottawa by asserting the constitutional boundaries that Ottawa habitually disrespects, seeking to undermine and intrude into
Alberta’s constitutional jurisdiction to develop its oil and gas resources.
Kenney says the Sovereignty Act does not respect the rule of law.
Properly applied the Sovereignty Act supports the rule of law as it asserts Alberta’s constitutional jurisdictions and resists abuses of power emanating out of Ottawa.
Kenney says he “isn’t really following the leadership race”. He is.
Kenney started saying he does not know which candidates are supporting the Sovereignty Act. He knows.
He also knew the deadline for members to participate in the leadership race had ended the day before he chose to improperly misrepresent a platform policy of a leading candidate who is not part of his inner circle.
Great leaders speak the truth in love inspiring the best in those they serve. They do not fearmonger, they do not call names, they do not misrepresent others’ ideas and then attack the straw men they manufactured with their misrepresentations.
It is disappointing to see Kenney failing in his responsibility to build unity. I have faith his successor will do better.
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