CALGARY – A man accused in Calgary’s worst mass murder is to go to trial next May.
Matthew de Grood, 23, was charged with first-degree murder after an attack at an end-of-school house party in April 2014 in which five young people were stabbed to death.
His two-week trial before a judge and jury is to begin next May 16.
De Grood is the son of a senior Calgary police officer.
As a result, the court agreed to have an out-of-town judge preside over the trial.
“It’s for the (same) reason we have an out-of-town Crown prosecutor … we want to make sure there’s no appearance of bias by having a local judge that might know his father,” said Allan Fay, de Grood’s lawyer.
De Grood, who appeared in court wearing glasses, a charcoal grey suit and a tie, sat quietly during the brief appearance. He remains under the care of the Southern Alberta Forensic Psychiatry Centre.
His parents, Douglas and Susan de Grood, as well as friends and family members of the five victims also attended court Friday.
“He’s doing as well as can be expected but obviously everybody in this — whether it’s Mr. de Grood or the family and friends of the people involved all want to see this thing move forward,” said Fay.
Crown prosecutor Neil Wiberg said his office has been in constant contact with the families of Lawrence Hong, Josh Hunter, Kaitlin Perras, Zackariah Rathwell, and Jordan Segura.
“They’re pleased to know that there’s a date. Of course it’s very upsetting for them to have lost their children in this way,” he said.
A judge ruled earlier this year after a preliminary hearing that there was enough evidence to send de Grood to trial.
De Grood is charged in the deaths of Hong, 27; Hunter, 23; Perras, 23; Rathwell, 21; and Segura, who was 22.
A psychiatric review has already determined that de Grood is fit to stand trial because he understands the charges against him and is able to communicate with his lawyer.
The Crown requested a mental assessment to determine if he could be found criminally responsible if convicted.
Police have not said what they think motivated the attack, but say de Grood was invited to the party and mingled with guests before violence broke out.
Fay isn’t ruling out a defence of not criminally responsible.
“I don’t want to commit to that. Any number of issues could arise in these matters,” Fay said.
Wiberg, who is based in Edmonton, said this case is unusual.
“The unique factor is there’s five homicides and it’s really troubling the way and the manner in which it happened,” Wiberg said.
“And of course there’s the outstanding character of the five victims — everybody’s hearts (are) broken,” he added.
“Just the quality of the individuals and the fact they were murdered at such a young age.”
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