A judge at a Vancouver double murder trial has ruled that a defence expert’s opinion that the accused may have been in a “gaming consciousness” at the time of the 2017 killings is admissable.
The ruling Thursday allowed the defence for Rocky Rambo Wei Nam Kam to close their case, with closing arguments expected to begin Tuesday.
Kam has admitted to killing Richard Jones, 68, and his wife Dianna Mah-Jones, 64, on Sept. 26, 2017, but has maintained his plea of not guilty to two counts of first-degree murder.
Defence has argued that Kam, who has previously described his obsession with video games, was suffering from a mental disorder at the time of the murders, and believed he was in one of his games.
Kam’s lawyers called clinical psychologist Dr. Edward Shen to the stand last week to back up their case by testifying to Kam’s mental state.
Shen’s testimony was given in voir dire — a trial within the trial to determine whether it will be admissible as evidence.
During that testimony, Shen told the court that during an 11-hour session with Kam held two years after the murders, the accused remembered killing the couple in their Marpole home but could speak to his intent.
“Perhaps Mr. Kam was operating in a game consciousness,” he further suggested, adding the accused might have anticipated “gaming consequences instead of real consequences.”
Kam has testified he spent as much as 15 hours a day playing violent video games like Skyrim. During his testimony last month, Kam even provided play-by-play commentary while his lawyer played the game in court.
Shen told the court that during their session together, Kam told him he was shocked when Mah-Jones screamed after Kam made his way into the couple’s Marpole home, a hatchet in one hand and a pocket knife in the other.
According to Shen, Kam didn’t know what to do because characters in the video game “don’t scream.”
Shen further testified that he hit a wall during the session when Kam was asked about committing the violent crimes.
“He felt no remorse. He felt no anxiety,” the doctor told the court. “He could not give an explanation why he didn’t feel these feelings.”
Under cross-examination, Crown argued Shen has no training in forensic interview techniques, and has no professional experience interviewing people who claim to have “gaming consciousness.”
Ultimately, Madam Justice Gerow disagreed and allowed Shen’s opinion to be admitted as evidence into the trial proper.
Closing arguments will begin Tuesday, starting with the defence’s final submissions.