June 18th, 2024

Psychological assessment ordered for woman accused of mailing live animals


By Delon Shurtz - Lethbridge Herald on February 4, 2023.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDdshurtz@lethbridgeherald.com

A southern Alberta woman accused of trying to send a puppy and kitten through the mail almost four years ago, has been ordered to have a psychological assessment.

Lethbridge lawyer Justin Dean requested the assessment for his client, Jill Heather Marshall, during a hearing Friday in Lethbridge provincial court. Dean told court his recent discussions with the accused convinced him he would be unable to receive clear instructions and she may be out of touch with reality.

“She has indicated that she is Aphrodite,” Dean told Judge Sylvia Oishi.

Dean requested a forensic assessment under Section 672 of the Criminal Code, which allows the court to order an assessment of the mental condition of an accused, if there are reasonable grounds to believe it’s necessary to determine whether the accused is unfit to stand trial, and whether the accused was, at the time of the commission of the alleged offence, suffering from a mental disorder so as to be exempt from criminal responsibility.

Dean explained he was unaware Marshall had been released from jail in B.C. in December, and was only arrested in Alberta last week on outstanding warrants and placed in custody at the Lethbridge Correctional Centre. A warrant had been issued Dec. 9, only three days after Marshall was released from Alouette Correctional Centre for Women in Maple Ridge, B.C. where she was in custody on charges out of that province.

Marshall, who is in the psychiatric unit at the jail, will be transferred to the Calgary Remand Centre so she can attend the Southern Alberta Forensic Psychiatry Centre in Calgary for a 30-day assessment.

The accused faces numerous charges, the oldest of which is a charge under the Animal Protection Act of causing an animal to be in distress, which stems from an investigation in the summer of 2019.

Vulcan County Enforcement Services reported that a post office employee in the Village of Milo, about 130 kilometres north of Lethbridge, discovered a puppy and kitten inside a cardboard box. The box had postage, a destination address, and the animals had stamps stuck to their heads. The following week, another box with a puppy inside was dropped off at the mail outlet.

The animals were unharmed and taken to the Calgary Humane Society.

According to Canada Post’s website, live animals cannot be mailed unless there is an agreement with Canada Post before mailing. Bees, day-old chicks and hatching eggs, parasites, leeches and some other small cold-blooded animals can be mailed under certain conditions.

After several court appearances in Lethbridge, Marshall pleaded not guilty in October 2019, and a trial was set for May 28, 2020. The trial was adjourned, however, because of the COVID pandemic and subsequent court restrictions. On March 9, 2021 a new trial was set for the following December, but Marshall never showed up for the trial and a warrant was issued for her arrest.

In addition to her charge of causing an animal to be in distress, Marshall also faces numerous additional charges, including drug possession, flight from police, mischief causing damage, assault, assaulting a peace officer with a weapon, failure to stop after an accident, dangerous driving and attempted theft of a motor vehicle.

Her matters are scheduled to return to court March 3 to determine the status of the forensic assessment.

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