June 16th, 2024

Psychiatric assessment ordered for man accused in health centre killing


By Delon Shurtz - Lethbridge Herald on February 24, 2023.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDdshurtz@lethbridgeherald.com

A 51-year-old man accused of killing a resident at St. Michael’s Health Centre in Lethbridge, has been ordered to undergo a 30-day psychiatric assessment at the Southern Alberta Forensic Psychiatry Centre in Calgary.

Charges of manslaughter and aggravated assault against Wesley Red Young Man were addressed for the first time Thursday in Lethbridge provincial court where Lethbridge lawyer Cara Lebenzon appeared for the accused and recommended he have the assessment under Section 672 of the Criminal Code.

The section authorizes the court to order an assessment of the mental condition of an accused person, if the judge believes it is necessary to determine whether the accused is unfit to stand trial or was, at the time of the alleged offence, suffering from a mental disorder so as to be exempt from criminal responsibility.

Lebenzon, who put herself and Lethbridge lawyer Scott Hadford on the record to represent the accused, said Red Young Man suffers from cognitive and functional deficits, including Alzheimer’s disease. She pointed out his wife, who attended court Thursday, has power of attorney for him because of his advanced dementia.

“I don’t want to go into his private health records too much, of course, but there is mention from the doctors that he’s not in the position to have the capacity to deal with his life and all of his affairs,” Lebenzon said.

The charges stem from an investigation which began Jan. 6 after police were notified of the death of 78-year-old Kenneth Hale at the care home in the 1400 block of 9 Avenue S.

“Hale’s body had previously been transported to Alberta office of the chief medical examiner in Calgary, and following an autopsy, his death was deemed suspicious,” police said in a news release.

Police reported they believe Hale had been assaulted by another resident of St. Michael’s Health Centre on Dec. 26, 2022, then died of his injuries on Jan. 3.

“The victim and subject were known to one another and resided in the same unit,” the news release stated, noting the accused was arrested on Tuesday at the care facility. He was remanded in custody shortly afterward, following a judicial interim release hearing.

Lebenzon said her client agrees to have the forensic assessment, although he likely doesn’t understand the situation in which he finds himself.

“I am of the opinion, independently, from my conversation with him, that there is mass confusion about what has happened. He didn’t remember why he’s at Lethbridge Correctional, but he knew where he was, so he was agreeable.”

The matter is scheduled to return to court March 24 to speak to the assessment and subsequent report, if completed.

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