January 16th, 2021

Assessment extended for arson suspect

By Shurtz, Delon on July 25, 2020.

Delon Shurtz

lethbridge herald


A psychological assessment ordered for a 28-year-old woman accused of starting a fire downtown earlier this year has had to be extended for a second time.

On May 26 a judge ordered Mary-Lee Roy Parks to have a 30-day forensic assessment conducted at the Southern Alberta Forensic Psychiatry Centre in Calgary. 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 assessment was not completed in the alloted time, however, because of delays caused by COVID-19, and on June 23 the psychiatry centre requested an extension.

During a hearing Friday in Lethbridge provincial court, another extension was granted after Alberta Health said the assessment has not been completed given the state of the patient’s mental health and her inability to make any decisions about her treatment.

The matter is set to return to court Aug. 21 when the Crown and defence hope to have the psychiatric report to help them determine what steps to take next.

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 initial 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.

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