Crown slams ‘bias’ of defense expert who assessed Quebec Halloween murder suspect
QUEBEC CITY — The Crown’s cross-examination of an expert witness in the 2020 Halloween murders case in Quebec City resulted in tense exchanges Monday between the judge and the prosecutor.
Prosecutor François Godin suggested that Dr Gilles Chamberland, a forensic psychiatrist testifying for the defence, was biased and had a preconceived idea about the defendant before he was asked to assess him.
This comment earned the Crown a reprimand from the trial judge for making “vexatious” comments.
“Show him a modicum of respect,” Quebec Superior Court Judge Richard Grenier told Godin.
An 11-person jury is to determine if Carl Girouard is criminally responsible for killing two people with a sword and injuring five others on October 31, 2020. Girouard, 26, is charged with two counts of first-degree murder and five counts of attempted murder and admitted physical acts. He maintains that he was not criminally responsible because he suffered from a mental disorder.
The Crown argues that Girouard was able to tell right from wrong when he walked the streets of Old Quebec on October 31, 2020.
Chamberland testified that Girouard likely suffered from schizophrenia and was in a state of delirium when the attacks took place. Nothing other than mental illness, he said, could explain the killings, noting that the defendant had responded well to medication.
The doctor, who often gives interviews to the media, had gone on the radio the day after the murders and said that Girouard suffered from mental illness.
Godin asked the court doctor on Monday if he was familiar with the concept of “hypothesis confirmation bias.”
“No matter what we will be confronted with, we will look for elements to confirm our hypothesis,” Godin told the witness.
The judge said he did not dispute Chamberland’s radio interview in which the doctor said the defendant suffered from a mental illness.
“Any psychiatrist who was asked the question would have answered that – come on!” Grenier said, adding that the doctor did not equate mental illness with the legal defense of not criminally responsible.
Earlier Monday, Chamberland told jurors that Girouard was not considered dangerous enough before the killings to be forced into treatment.
Chamberland says that was the case for Girouard despite the defendant openly telling medical professionals six years before the murders that he wanted to use a sword to kill people.
The witness said the police should have believed there was a serious and immediate danger to arrest Girouard, adding that the danger involving the suspect was unclear.
This report from The Canadian Press was first published on May 2, 2022.
The Canadian Press