June 13th, 2024

Psych assessment no longer necessary in animal case

By Delon Shurtz - Lethbridge Herald on March 8, 2023.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDdshurtz@lethbridgeherald.com

A psychological assessment for a southern Alberta woman accused of trying to send a puppy and kitten through the mail is no longer required, her lawyer told a judge Tuesday.

Lethbridge lawyer Justin Dean said even though his client, Jill Marshall, suffers from some health issues, he believes the assessment, ordered in February, is no longer applicable.

The forensic assessment was ordered to determine whether there are reasonable grounds to believe 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.

“There are mental health concerns, absolutely, but in regards to fitness and NCR (not criminally responsible), we submit they do not apply, so that order should have been vacated,” Dean said.

Dean had initially requested the assessment because he was concerned Marshall, 57, may be out of touch with reality, and he was not convinced she could give him clear instructions. However, he attributed her earlier behaviour to possible drug-induced psychosis.

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.

After several court appearances in Lethbridge, Marshall pleaded not guilty in October of 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 mischief causing damage under $5,000, and failure to attend court, to which she pleaded guilty Tuesday.

Court was told that on July 14, 2022 Marshall was drinking alcohol while parked in her truck at the Circle K convenience store in Nanton. She exited the vehicle with a stencil and spray painted the sidewalk and the door of an ice box.

After she was told by an employee to stop, she said, “f–k you, you can’t tell me what to do,” then drove south on Highway 2.

When an RCMP officer later found the truck in Nanton he noticed a design on the truck that matched the design painted at the Circle K. Marshall was arrested, and during a search of her vehicle, police found several cans of spray paint, alcohol and a small amount of methamphetamine.

“There was no methamphetamine, but there was a meth pipe,” Marshall admitted.

Crown Prosecutor Dawn Janecke pointed out Marshall has a lengthy criminal record that goes back to 1982 and includes convictions for violence, weapons and drug-related offences.

Marshall was sentenced to three weeks in jail for the mischief and failure to attend court offences, but given full credit for time she has already spent in remand custody. She remains in custody, however, on additional charges that include flight from police, assault, assaulting a peace officer with a weapon, failure to stop after an accident, dangerous driving and attempted theft of a motor vehicle.

Dean noted Marshall suffers from post-concussion syndrome, which plays a role in her “underlying circumstances.”

Marshall’s next court appearance is scheduled for Friday when, Dean said, he plans to have a bail hearing and seek his client’s release.

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