Two years after Tammy Brown died in her River Heights home, the woman’s family sat in the front row of a Saskatoon courtroom for the trial of Blake Schreiner.
On Jan. 29, 2019, Schreiner woke up in the early morning hours. He walked into Tammy’s bedroom and stabbed her 80 times. The 39-year-old admits to killing his partner, but the key question of the trial is whether or not he should be found not criminally responsible (NCR).
“I thought that she wanted me dead,” said Schreiner when he took the stand in September.
Court heard the last of its evidence from forensic psychiatrists Friday. The defence indicated it may seek to call a psychologist as its last witness next week. The Crown and defence will soon argue their positions, but no date has been set.
Crown prosecutor Melodi Kujawa is expected to state any mental illness Schreiner had did not make him incapable of knowing that killing Tammy was wrong. The defence will argue Schreiner had schizotypal personality disorder, which rendered him incapable of appreciating the consequences of his actions.
On Friday, court heard from Dr. Olajide Adelugba, the second of two forensic psychiatrists who assessed Schreiner’s mental health. He determined Schreiner was capable of understanding his actions, despite his alcohol use disorder, cannabis use disorder, alcohol-induced mood disorder, generalized anxiety disorder with panic attacks and major depressive disorder with prominent anxiety symptoms.
Dr. Adelugba concluded Schreiner’s looming breakup with Tammy and the prospect of losing his two young children in a custody dispute were the primary factors in the killing.
It’s defence lawyer Brad Mitchell’s position that Dr. Adelugba didn’t get a full account of Schreiner’s state of mind before Tammy died. Mitchell highlighted Schreiner’s testimony that he went to bed fully clothed with his young daughter due to the fear Tammy, the Illuminati or someone else wanted to “nail” him for pedophilia. Schreiner also didn’t tell Dr. Adelugba that he considered killing his daughter before Tammy.
Schreiner testified that he withheld information during Dr. Adelugba’s assessment because he was receiving messages to keep quiet.
According to Schreiner’s testimony, he didn’t mention during his assessment he had been hearing voices, searching rooms in his house, blocking doors and thinking he detected noises at night. He told court, but not Dr. Adelugba, that he woke up in the early morning hours with his mind racing, including a voice telling him “just do it” before he stabbed Tammy.
Learning of the comments in court, Dr. Adelugba said Schreiner’s testimony exhibited traits of schizotypal personality worthy of further assessment, but it doesn’t mean Schreiner had the condition at the time of Tammy’s death.
Schizotypal personality disorder is a condition on the schizophrenia spectrum characterized by symptoms like anxiety, paranoia and misinterpretation of normal events as messages.
Dr. Mansfield Mela, the other forensic psychiatrist who testified, said Schreiner thought he was Jesus Christ or a king and “believed he was in grave danger.”
Dr. Mela determined Schreiner did have schizotypal personality disorder at the time of killing and he didn’t understand his actions were wrong.
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A central issue during the trial is Schreiner’s repeated use of hallucinogenic mushrooms and whether he was impaired by the drug when he killed Tammy.
During two interviews with Dr. Mela, Schreiner gave conflicting accounts of his mushroom use. In the first, Schreiner claimed to have used the drug in the hours before the stabbing. Four months later, the accused said he hadn’t used mushrooms in the six weeks before the killing.
A series of journals written before Tammy died shed light on Schreiner’s visions and “religious experiences” he had while high on mushrooms. He testified that using the drug was an attempt to “re-wire” his brain to heal trauma.
For two months before Tammy’s death, Schreiner said he was in “fight or flight” mode. He testified that while in Saskatoon, he once thought he was a werewolf and howled at the moon. Drawing symbolism from seemingly innocuous events, he took a flight to Cuba.
From there, he traveled to Toronto and Montreal, missing the last Christmas before Tammy’s death.
“I had nowhere to run anymore. It was her or me,” Schreiner said.
The judge-alone trial is being heard by Justice Ron Mills at Saskatoon’s Court of Queen’s Bench.