April 15, 2017 will mark the third anniversary of the worst mass killing in Calgary’s history. But just one week before that tragic date, a hearing will be held to determine the fate of killer Matthew de Grood.
“I don’t think that the public understands that there could be a point where he could just be living next door to you and you wouldn’t know it,” Ronda-Lee Rathwell told Global News.
Rathwell’s son Zackariah, 21, Jordan Segura, 22, Josh Hunter, 23, Kaitlin Perras, 23, and Lawrence Hong, 27, were stabbed to death at a Brentwood house party three years ago.
Last May, de Grood was found not criminally responsible (NCR), meaning he was found to have been mentally ill at the time of the stabbings.
Every year, his status is reviewed. The next hearing will take place April 6 and 7 in front of a board made up of an Alberta provincial court judge, two psychiatrists and community members.
“The timing of the review is literally one week before the third anniversary of our children’s death,” Kaiti Perras’ father Gregg said. “To us, that’s an important day and that causes us a lot of trauma and anxiety. So this is just adding to that anxiety.”
Once again, the families have been asked to prepare victim impact statements to be read at the hearing.
“It’s not just about remembering Zack and Kaiti and Josh and Lawrence and Jordan. It’s about making sure this doesn’t happen to anybody else,” Ronda-Lee said.
The board has three options: they can order de Grood to continue treatment in a secure facility, grant him a conditional discharge or give him an absolute discharge.
But the families want more: for him to be monitored indefinitely.
There is legislation that could be used to make freedom more difficult. For that to happen, the Crown would need to pursue a “high-risk NCR” designation.
“The high-risk application, we were told after the trial that’s the next step, but afterwards we never heard about anything,” said Lawrence Hong’s mother Marlene, fighting back tears.
SPECIAL COVERAGE: Remembering the Brentwood 5
All five families told Global News they support a high-risk designation.
“I don’t want any other family to suffer the same fate that has fallen on us. It would be another tragedy waiting to happen,” Hong’s father Lorenzo said.
The families have watched what’s happened in other NCR cases where a high-risk designation wasn’t pursued.
“My worst fear is we are looking at another situation like Vince Li in Manitoba,” Gregg Perras said. “I think everyone is aware that he was just unconditionally released after just eight years.
“That scares the hell out of us–that that could happen in this case–that he wouldn’t potentially be under any sort of supervision at some point.”
The hearing is scheduled for two days at the Peter Lougheed hospital.