NEW WESTMINSTER, B.C. – A psychiatrist treating a man accused of stabbing two girls at an Abbotsford, B.C., high school says he believes his patient has schizophrenia, is psychotic and experiencing delusions.
Dr. Marcel Hediger told a B.C. Supreme Court hearing Wednesday that Gabriel Klein also told him he killed one person and seriously hurt another.
Klein is charged with second-degree murder in the death of 13-year-old Letisha Reimer and is accused of the aggravated assault of another teenage girl in what police have described as a random attack in November 2016.
Klein was 21-years-old when he was arrested. He did not speak or respond to questions in his first three court appearances.
A B.C. Supreme Court judge has to decide if the man is mentally fit to face the charges at trial.
Hediger said he has done two assessments of Klein and determined that at those times the man was “not unfit” to stand trial.
But the psychiatrist noted that Klein’s mental state is variable and very fragile.
It’s “fairly likely” that the stress of a drawn-out trial would cause his state to deteriorate to a point where Klein would be unable to follow the proceedings or communicate with his lawyer, Hediger said.
“Mr. Klein is actively psychotic,” he told the court. “It wouldn’t surprise me if he were struggling to follow this active proceeding here.”
Both Crown counsel and Klein’s defence lawyer are expected to make arguments Thursday about the man’s fitness for trial.
Outside court Wednesday, defence lawyer Martin Peters declined to comment on what his submissions will include, but he noted that if Klein is found unfit, a trial scheduled to begin on May 7 will be put on hold.
Klein would then we kept at the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital in Coquitlam, and it would be up to a review board to reassess him within 30 days.
“It becomes a bit of a Yo-yo process,” Peters said.
Last June, the Abbotsford School District released a report that made 31 recommendations on how safety at the school could be improved in the wake of the stabbing.
The report said a man entered the school through the adjoining public library and it recommended creating a physical barrier between the two facilities.