A judge has found that an Alberta man who killed his mother earlier this year because he thought she was possessed by Satan is not criminally responsible for her death.
Alexander James Thorpe, 21, was arrested in January after showing up at an Airdrie car dealership nude, except for a gold cross around his neck, covered in blood.
He told police and EMS officials that he was told by Jesus to kill Satan who had taken over his mother, Melanie Lowen’s body.
Justice Suzanne Bensler said Friday that there were two tests to determine if Thorpe wasn’t criminally responsible: Was he suffering from a mental disorder at the time of the offence and was he incapable of knowing the act was wrong?
“There is only one issue before me: Is Mr. Thorpe not criminally responsible by reason of a mental disorder,” said Bensler.
“I am satisfied on a balance of probabilities that Mr. Thorpe has met both requirements.”
Thorpe will remain at the Southern Alberta Forensic Psychiatry Centre for up to 90 days before he appears before the Alberta Review Board, which will determine his fate.
A psychiatrist has testified that a psychotic episode that led to an Alberta man killing his mother earlier this year may have been triggered by him attending a religious gathering in Atlanta.
Dr. Kenneth Hashman initially found Alexander James Thorpe, who is 21, fit to stand trial in the death of Melanie Lowen, whose body was found at her home in Airdrie, north of Calgary, in January.
But he recommended a further assessment questioning whether he was criminally responsible after finding he suffered from a type of bipolar disorder that can cause episodes of psychosis with hallucinations, delusions, disordered thinking and a lack of awareness of reality.
Hashman said stress is often what brings on an episode and it could have been good stress from his attending “Passion” in Atlanta, a gathering for young people that gave him a spiritual high.
The Christian event attracts up to 60,000 young people, aged 18 to 25, each year.
Hashman said after his attendance, Thorpe became preoccupied with faith and spirituality.
“He developed various signs and symptoms that were later attributed to a mental disorder of psychotic proportions,” Hashman testified.
“He was having some form of spiritual awakening, so all consistent with a psychotic disturbance that was evolving at the time,” he added.
“He became paranoid and was concerned that he was being watched or targeted by powerful individuals or an evil entity and that is important because he ultimately determined that is mother was an evil entity or Satan and, as a result, it was ‘kill or be killed’ at the time of the offence.”
Thorpe told law enforcement and paramedics that Satan had taken control of his mother and he needed to kill her.
He repeated his belief to health-care professionals during his assessment.
“He had to sacrifice his mother to prove he was a true believer,” Hashman said.
“‘She was not even my mom. I had no inhibition.’ She was just a prop. He believed that Satan had taken hold of his mother. He felt compelled to finish it or Satan would come after him. It was a test of faith.”
Hashman said he believed that Thorpe had met the criteria for not being criminal responsible. He said the accused had only fragmented memories of what happened and the psychotic episode happened over a matter of days.
“Nobody realized what was happening, including his mother. He had no moral compass.”
If Justice Suzanne Bensler finds him not criminally responsible, he would be required to appear before the Alberta Review Board within 45 days for an assessment.