January 20th, 2021

Third extension of assessment ordered for arson suspect

By Shurtz, Delon on August 22, 2020.

Delon Shurtz

lethbridge herald


An arson case continues to be adjourned while a Lethbridge woman undergoes a series of psychological assessments in Calgary.

For the third time in as many months a forensic assessment for Mary-Lee Parks has been extended at the request of doctors at the Southern Alberta Forensic Psychiatry Centre.

The third extension was granted Friday by a judge in Lethbridge provincial court, where Parks faces charges of arson, drug possession and breach of an undertaking.

On May 26 a judge first ordered Parks to have a 30-day forensic assessment to determine whether she 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 in July a second extension was granted after the assessment had still not been completed given the state of the patient’s mental health and her inability to make any decisions about her treatment. On Friday the third extension, which will include an assessment under Alberta’s Mental Health Act, was granted.

Parks is accused of starting a fire near a Lethbridge business May 13.

When police arrived at the Umami Shop in the 800 block of 4 Avenue South, they found wood pallets and cardboard piled up against the building in flames.

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 a small amount of drugs.

Although she was charged with three counts of drug possession, two of the charges relating to 1.3 grams of methamphetamine and one morphine pill were withdrawn Friday by the federal Crown prosecutor.

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