January 18th, 2021

Psych assessment for arson suspect

By Shurtz, Delon on June 25, 2020.

Delon Shurtz

lethbridge herald


A psychological assessment ordered in May for a 27-year-old woman accused of starting a fire in the downtown area has been extended for another month.

A judge ordered on May 26 that Mary-Lee Roy Parks have a 30-day forensic assessment, but Tuesday court was told the assessment had not been completed because of delays caused by COVID-19 and needs to be extended. The assessment is to determine whether the accused is unfit to stand trial, or was, at the time of the commission of the alleged offence, suffering from a mental disorder so as to be exempt from criminal responsibility.

The matter is scheduled to return to court July 24 to speak to the assessment and resulting report.

Parks, who is charged with arson, drug possession and breach of an undertaking, is accused of starting a fire near a Lethbridge business May 13.

Police responded to a fire at the Umami Shop in the 800 block of 4 Avenue South, and discovered that during the early morning hours wood pallets and cardboard piled up against the building had been lit on fire.

Firefighters extinguished the fire, but not before it caused about $6,000 worth of damage to the store and overhead Telus lines. A suspect was identified through security video footage and arrested without incident the following morning. The suspect was also caught with an unspecified amount of methamphetamine.

Defence recommended the assessment during the hearing in May, and said he’s concerned about her state of mind and her ability to instruct him. He said he would be uncomfortable proceeding on her behalf, based on her instructions, until she has been assessed.

The Crown said at the time he’s not surprised by the defence application given the accused’s “mental health issues.”

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