A boy who fatally stabbed a teen in a city apartment has been found not criminally responsible due to a mental disorder.
A psychiatrist concluded that the 16-year-old killer was in the midst of an intense psychotic episode at the time of the slaying and couldn’t tell right from wrong.
17-year-old found not criminally responsible for stabbing
He was having hallucinations and delusions for days leading up to the killing.
"When he killed Terrance Mink, (the killer) was sick. He was mentally ill," Crown attorney Jim Ross said in Brandon provincial court on Tuesday as he shared previously unreleased details of the stabbing.
During Tuesday’s hearing, the now 17-year-old teen admitted that he killed 18-year-old Terrance Leroy Mink by stabbing him in the chest.
He was charged with second-degree murder but, based on the evidence and a psychiatric assessment, Judge Donovan Dvorak ruled the killer not criminally responsible due to a mental disorder.
Ross described how, just after midnight on March 11, police were called to an apartment in a building on the 300-block of Louise Avenue.
Mink was lying on the floor near the kitchen, unconscious and with a faint pulse. There was a 13.5 cm-deep wound to his chest.
Paramedics couldn’t revive Mink and he was pronounced dead at hospital around 1 a.m.
In the kitchen, police found the weapon used to stab Mink — a bloody filleting knife with a 13-centimetre blade.
In a chair sat the suspect. He and seven other people — his aunts, uncles and cousins — were taken to the Brandon police station for questioning.
From the start, it was obvious something was wrong with the teen suspect.
He seemed disoriented, and when police spoke to him, he would moan or was incoherent and didn’t seem to understand what he was told.
In his cell, he rocked back and forth or paced. At one point he lay on the floor with his tongue sticking out.
Police decided the youth should go to hospital, but he put up a fight and it took three officers to wrestle him into a car. At hospital, he had to be strapped to a bed.
A psychiatrist at the hospital suspected psychosis and, based on a report that the boy had taken pills, the teen was initially diagnosed with drug-induced psychosis.
He remained psychotic for some time and initially wouldn’t respond when spoken to, or would moan.
Two days after the killing, his condition had improved but he still seemed confused and disoriented.
By the next day, he was discharged from hospital and police arrested him for murder.
He has been in custody since.
Ross told court that the boy’s blood was tested, but only traces of marijuana and an antidepressant were found. There was no alcohol and no drug that would have caused the psychosis, despite initial suspicions.
There was nothing to support the suspicion that he’d taken pills, as originally thought, and the investigation shifted to mental illness.
The boy had no previous history of mental illness, but Ross noted that certain conditions can start to show during adolescence.
Family members said the boy had been acting bizarrely for up to two days before the stabbing. Usually talkative, he hadn’t been responding to them and had been staring into space.
However, Ross said they thought the youth had taken drugs and hoped the effects would wear off.
In reality, he was suffering hallucinations and delusions.
There’s no evidence that Mink and his killer knew each other prior to the stabbing and they wound up in the same apartment by chance.
The killer is from South Indian Lake and was in Brandon to visit his ailing grandmother who has since passed away.
His criminal record prior to the killing was relatively minor, with offences like break and enter, breach of a release order and possession of stolen property.
Mink, meanwhile, lived in Brandon with his father and sister, and Ross described how he planned to return to school this year and move into his own apartment.
His family described him as a happy, loving shy person.
After the killing, his family told the Brandon Sun that, three days before his death, Mink stormed from his home during an argument with his dad.
Police were called but Mink couldn’t be found, his family said.
Ross told court on Tuesday that Mink wound up at the apartment of his killer’s aunt. Mink lived across the street, paid the woman a visit and she fed him as he seemed hungry.
The killer’s aunt told authorities that Mink stayed awhile and at one point went to the kitchen followed by her nephew.
She couldn’t see what happened next but heard Mink exclaim, "He stabbed me!" as he walked out of the kitchen and collapsed onto the floor.
Her nephew walked out of the kitchen and sat in a chair like nothing happened. There he remained until police arrived.
Based on what he would later tell a psychiatrist during an assessment, the killer was suffering hallucinations and delusions for two days prior to the stabbing.
He was hearing voices, believed he was being followed, that someone was burning his hands as he slept and that his cousin had been replaced by someone else.
At the time of his stabbing, he recalled being afraid of a boy (presumably Mink) who he believed would harm or kill him and heard a voice say, "Leave him alone, you are freaking him out."
The killer told the psychiatrist that, "I grabbed that thing" (apparently a reference to the knife).
The psychiatrist concluded that the killer was in a psychotic state at the time of the stabbing, couldn’t appreciate his situation or tell right from wrong, and was not criminally responsible.
However, it’s not clear yet what the cause of the psychosis was.
When first taken to hospital, he didn’t recall harming anyone. However, he has since come to realize what he has done and cried during his assessment.
Ross told court that, given the evidence and psychiatric assessment, the Crown accepted that the killer was "fully psychotic" when he stabbed Mink and not criminally responsible.
Defence lawyer Ryan Fawcett agreed with the finding of not criminally responsible.
"That doesn’t mean (the youth) and his family have no feelings about this tragedy," Fawcett said, offering Mink’s family condolences on the part of his client and his family.
Fawcett said that his client, like the victim, was a young man with his whole life ahead of him.
All the boy can do now, Fawcett said, is work with mental health facility staff and demonstrate he’s not a danger to the public so he can reunite with his family someday and pursue his goal of becoming a carpenter.
The province’s Criminal Code Review Board will now hold a hearing within 90 days to determine the youth’s fate, and he’ll remain in custody as he awaits its decision.
In general, there’s a wide range of potential outcomes when an offender is referred to the board.
If the board finds the patient is a threat to himself or others, it can order him to be detained in a mental health facility subject to annual review.
Or, a patient can receive a conditional discharge which means he or she could live in a group home with orders to take treatment and prescribed medication. The patient has to consent to taking medication.
If the board finds a patient is no threat, it’s obligated to grant an absolute discharge and the patient is released into the community without conditions.
Following court, Fawcett said that his young client has been held at the Manitoba Youth Centre but may now be transferred to the Selkirk Mental Health Centre as he awaits the review board’s decision.
Mink’s family, including his mom and dad, were in court on Tuesday and so was the killer’s father. Both parties declined comment.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition August 21, 2013