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Toronto man likely developed PTSD after dismembering mother, Crown psychiatrist tells court

Click to play video: 'Court hears conflicting testimony from psychiatrists in trial of Toronto man accused of murdering his mother'
Court hears conflicting testimony from psychiatrists in trial of Toronto man accused of murdering his mother
WATCH: Court hears conflicting testimony from psychiatrists in trial of Toronto man accused of murdering his mother

Warning: This story contains graphic and disturbing descriptions. Discretion is strongly advised. 

A forensic psychiatrist hired by the Crown at the second-degree murder trial for Dallas Ly told a jury that while she believes Ly was a victim of child abuse at the hands of his mother, she does not agree with a psychiatrist for the defence who diagnosed Ly with having post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) when he killed his mother.

Dr. Alina Iosif was called as a reply witness for the Crown Tuesday after the defence closed its case.

Dallas Ly has admitted to fatally stabbing his mother, Tien Ly, on the night of March 27, 2022, in the Leslieville condominium they shared but testified he never meant to kill her. Ly said he told his mother he was moving out and was going to live with his aunt. The 23-year-old testified that caused his mom to become enraged, she threatened to kill him and his aunt and a scuffle began.

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Iosif’s testimony comes just a day after Dr. Mitesh Patel, a forensic psychiatrist called as a witness for the defence, testified that after performing two assessments of Ly, including three interviews between February and April 2024, he diagnosed him with PTSD and major depressive disorder at the time of the incident.

Patel told the jury the PTSD was a result of a significant and long-standing history of severe childhood abuse and neglect that continued into his teenage years.

Dallas Ly testifies during his second-degree murder trial in Toronto. Pam Davies

Iosif testified she was not hired to assess Ly, but rather to do a “peer review” of Patel’s assessment based on his written reports and watching Patel and Ly testify in court. She never interviewed Ly herself and admits there were limitations to her report.

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Iosif said in her opinion, Ly’s PTSD only began after he killed his mother.

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“He kills his mother in a way that is particularly gruesome,” she told the court.

“Following this, Mr. Ly experiences intrusion symptoms, he has flashbacks of the index offence and he has nightmares in which he’s chased by zombies at the Eaton’s Centre. It’s not exactly what happened but you can see the parallels. He was arrested at the Eaton’s Centre. These are intrusion symptoms that are related to the trauma that occurred at the time of the index offence.”

Iosif said that after seeing Ly take the stand in his own defence last week, his sincerity and reliability in giving details about his mother’s treatment during his formative years and the photos of the scars on his back caused by a back-scratcher with a sharpened edge persuaded her that he had suffered physical and emotional abuse.

During cross-examination, Iosif was asked if it was the first time she had written a report after watching someone testify in court, which it was. She also agreed with defence counsel Jessyca Greenwood, who suggested it was the Crown’s idea to write such a report.

“You’re doing a peer review of Patel’s work and critique so you would agree with me, then, that you on your own cannot provide a diagnosis of Mr. Ly?” Greenwood queried.

Iosif agreed that all she can say is where she believes Patel’s assessment is deficient.

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From left to right: Defence lawyer Jessyca Greenwood, Justice Alfred O’Marra and Dallas Ly. Pam Davies

Greenwood suggested that after the defence sent Patel’s report to the Crown, Iosif provided a short summary to the Crown on April 12, 2024, in which she wrote that she did not agree with Patel’s diagnosis, before seeing Ly testify.

“I said then the criteria for PTSD predating the homicide were not met,” Iosif replied.

Greenwood asked Iosif if she had concerns about “confirmation bias” in light of that. Iosif said she didn’t know what confirmation bias was.

Greenwood asked Iosif if it’s possible that Ly had PTSD prior to the offence since it’s true that people who have suffered child abuse have a high rate of PTSD.

“I think it’s in the realm of possibility but I have no basis for that diagnosis,” Iosif said.

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Closing arguments are expected to be heard on Thursday before the judge instructs the jury next week.

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