Mental disorder defence to be raised by suspect in killing of his mom

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The Airdrie man charged with murdering his mother in January will schedule a hearing in Court of Queen’s Bench to determine if he was not criminally responsible by reason of a mental disorder, one of his lawyers told court Thursday.

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Defence counsel David Roper told provincial court Judge Ken McLeod that Alexander James Thorpe was waiving his right to a preliminary inquiry and would have his case go directly to Court of Queen’s Bench.

“My instructions are to waive the preliminary inquiry and thereafter content to committal (to stand trial),” said Roper, on behalf of lead defence lawyer Balfour Der.

Roper told McLeod they wanted to set a date in criminal appearance court in Queen’s Bench “for the purpose of scheduling an NCR hearing.”

Crown prosecutor Jim Sawa did not oppose the application, but indicated he would have to review Thorpe’s medical records before determining if the case would go to trial, or a not criminally responsible hearing.

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Sawa noted Thorpe was found fit to stand trial, meaning he has the ability to understand the legal process, but Dr. Ken Hashman completed an assessment to determine the accused’s state of mind at the time of the death of his mother.

A finding of not criminally responsible would require evidence the accused was suffering from a mental disorder that rendered him incapable of appreciating the nature and quality of the act or of knowing that it was wrong.

McLeod accepted Roper’s application to have the case moved to Court of Queen’s Bench.

“On Mr. Thorpe’s application, the preliminary inquiry in this matter is waived and there is a consent order to stand trial and the matter will go to criminal appearance court in order to set a date for an NCR hearing,” the judge said.

Thorpe, 20, is charged with second-degree murder in the death of his mother, Melanie Lowen, 48, whose body was found in an Airdrie residence during a well-being check Jan. 13.

Thorpe, who appeared in court by phone from the Southern Alberta Forensic Psychiatry Centre, will remain detained there pending his hearing.

He’s next in court on May 27.

On Twitter: @KMartinCourts

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