DISTURBING CONTENT: This story contains descriptions of graphic violence. Discretion is strongly advised.
In an unusual move, the second day of trial started with the families of the five victims reading tributes in court. The judge noted they were not victim impact statements, as there’s been no finding of guilt.
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Zackariah Rathwell, 21, Jordan Segura, 22, Josh Hunter, 23, Kaitlin Perras, 23, and Lawrence Hong, 27, were stabbed to death at a house party in Brentwood on April 15, 2014.
SPECIAL COVERAGE: Remembering the Brentwood 5
Below are some highlights from the victim tributes read in court Tuesday.
Patty Segura, Jordan’s mother, said her son was “affectionately known as ‘baby’.”
“My heart was the first heart that loved Jordan,” she said, adding he had a tattoo on his right arm that read “mom.”
Jordan’s brother, Jullien, said the two were often confused as twins, and called him “a mentor and a leader.”
Jordan’s father, Ricardo, struggled to speak as he described his favourite memories, including surfing vacations.
“I love looking at those pictures…I loved Jordan so much,” he said, before leaving the court room in tears.
Lawrence’s father, Lorenzo, described memories of his son’s childhood and spoke of his accomplishments, including his involvement with an organization that promotes urban initiatives.
“Now we will be left with a dream—a dream of what Lawrence would have become,” he said.
Lawrence’s mother, Marlene, said her son lived his life to the fullest; his brother, Miles, shared both painful and joyful memories, and remembered him as passionate and caring.
Kaiti’s sister, Nicky, lovingly described her sister as stubborn, and said being around her made life better.
“My sister had a very tough outer shell, but was mush of a person on the inside,” she said.
She also described Kaiti as an elegant dancer.
“When Kaiti preformed, it was like time stood still. She lit up the stage with her grace.”
Josh’s sister, Michaela, tearfully said she aspires to be more like her brother each day, saying “he truly shaped me into the person I am today.”
His mother, Kelly, said she’s been comforted by reading messages from his friends who’ve shared stories with her.
Josh’s grandmother, Fran Fraser, said a huge hole has been left in her heart, but fondly remembered their shared love of music.
“Josh and I shared a very special love of music, especially the drums,” she said.
Zackariah’s mother, Ronda-Lee, remembered her son as witty, loving and charming with an open mind and heart.
“He could light up a room with his smile,” she said, adding he played guitar every day, filling the house with music.
“Zack was just coming into his own,” she said.
Zack’s father, Bruce, read a poem about all five victims of the tragedy, and proudly spoke of his son’s dedication as a scout, along with his passion for hockey and music. He described his son’s band, Zackariah and the Prophets, who produced an EP of original music.
“I was there when Zack came into this world, and I was there to identify his body as his soul left this world,” Bruce said. “Don’t forget mommy and daddy love you with all our hearts.”
The judge thanked each of the families for the tributes, and for providing a snapshot into the lives of their loved ones. Court was adjourned for the day after they were read.
Outside court, de Grood’s lawyer, Allan Fay, admitted hearing the tributes during the trial was unusual, but said it was agreed by the justice, Crown, and defence that it was appropriate in this unique case.
“It was important that the families of the victims had the opportunity,” Fay said, choking back tears, “to speak…and I hope it gives them comfort.”
“It’s incredibly hard. No one with a heart could hear that and be unmoved–any of us that are parents–it strikes right to the heart,” Fay said, visibly moved himself by the tributes.
An agreed statement of facts was entered Monday, in which 24-year-old de Grood admitted to stabbing each of the five victims with a kitchen knife. A publication ban was also lifted on a police document containing a detailed account of the time before, during, and after the killings.
Court heard his parents and sibling started noticing strange activity leading up to the night of the attacks, and became so concerned they considered having him taken into custody with a mental health warrant. De Grood had previously used cocaine and ecstasy, and his family wondered if he was using leading up to the stabbing spree.
Blood tests later revealed he had no alcohol or drugs in his system when the stabbings happened.
It’s expected de Grood’s mental state at the time of the killings will be at the forefront of the trial, and that an NCR (not criminally responsible) defence will be put forward. NCR applies to those who are found to have committed an act that constitutes an offence, but cannot appreciate or understand what they did was wrong due to a mental disorder at the time.
WATCH BELOW: Forensic psychologist Patrick Baillie joins Global Calgary to explain what not criminally responsible (NCR) means and how mental illness is treated in the Canadian criminal justice system.
De Grood has been receiving treatment at the Southern Alberta Forensic Psychiatry Centre since his arrest.
He listened intently to the tributes, but showed little outward emotion. Fay said his client is extremely sad and nervous.
“I hope people keep that in mind. My client is receiving medications, and as a result of those medications, he may not react in the way people would hope to see him react,” Fay said. “And I would only hope people would appreciate that what they see is not as a result of the way my client is, but the kind of treatment he is receiving.”
Two psychiatrists who have dealt with de Grood are expected to testify on Wednesday.
LIVE BLOG: Follow reporter Nancy Hixt as she tweets the details of the trial live from the Calgary Courts Centre