A judge has determined a Shuswap man who shot and killed a Salmon Arm churchgoer in April 2019, and wounded another, was not criminally responsible for his actions due to a mental disorder.
Justice Sheri Ann Donegan, who presided over the case of Matrix Gathergood as part of Supreme Court proceedings at the Salmon Arm courthouse, delivered her ruling on Wednesday, July 22.
Gathergood, 25, was facing charges of murder in the death of church leader Gordon Parmenter and aggravated assault for the wounding of Paul Derkach after the April 14, 2019 shooting at the Salmon Arm Church of Christ.
Gathergood pleaded not guilty and his lawyer, Johnathan Avis, put forward the defence of not criminally responsible due to a mental disorder.
During court proceedings on July 21, Crown counsel Alison Buchanan did not challenge the defence. She stated the psychiatric report from Dr. Andrew Kolchak supported the contention that Gathergood suffered from symptoms of psychosis, which made it difficult for him to rationally evaluate what he was doing.
Gathergood, long haired and bearded and wearing a black sweatshirt and toque, appeared by video conference from the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital in Coquitlam. He was silent and wore a blank expression as Donegan delivered her decision and the reasons for it.
Testifying by phone on July 21, Kolchak said he diagnosed Gathergood with schizophrenia and that he believes he qualifies for the not criminally responsible by way of mental disorder defence. Kolchak said Gathergood believed there was a new-world-order governing body that 78-year-old Parmenter was involved with. According to Kolchak’s testimony, Gathergood also believed he was under threat from Parmenter.
Testimony on July 21 also touched on the relationship between the two men, that Parmenter had been something of a father figure to Gathergood over the years. The court heard that Gathergood thought Parmenter blamed him for the Parmenters’ move from their home in Silver Creek.
Kolchak was the only witness called on July 21 as the Crown and defence had already agreed on a statement of facts about the events surrounding the shooting.
Donnegan ordered Gathergood be confined to hospital while the case is forwarded to the Forensic Psychiatric Commission for a disposition hearing. Options expected would include detaining the person in a psychiatric facility, discharging them with conditions and having them return for further assessments, or giving them an absolute discharge. The seriousness of the crime would generally affect the options.
With files by Martha Wickett.