October 28th, 2020

Arson suspect fit to stand trial


By Shurtz, Delon on September 23, 2020.

Delon Shurtz

lethbridge herald

dshurtz@lethbridgeherald.com

A Lethbridge woman accused of starting a fire near a downtown business earlier this year is fit to stand trial, a forensic assessment has concluded.

The assessment, conducted at the Southern Alberta Forensic Psychiatry Centre in Calgary, has determined Mary-Lee Parks can be held criminally responsible and is able to provide instructions to her lawyer.

The woman was sent for an assessment in May 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. After three extensions, the assessment has finally been completed, but during a brief hearing Monday in Lethbridge provincial court, Lethbridge lawyer Bjoern Wolkmann pointed out he hadn’t received a copy.

The matter was adjourned until next Monday to allow defence time to receive and review the assessment.

Parks is accused of starting a fire May 13 near the Umami Shop in the 800 block of 4 Avenue South. When police arrived at the business, 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 phone 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of drug possession, two of the charges relating to 1.3 grams of methamphetamine and one morphine pill were previously withdrawn by the federal Crown prosecutor. She is also charged with one count each of arson and failing to comply with release conditions.

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