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Glen Race needs treatment for mental illness, not punishment

Photo: Tom Flemming/flickr

Michael Knott did not deserve to die. Trevor Brewster did not deserve to die. Their family and friends should have more than memories today.

That said, Justice Kevin Coady was right Friday to declare Glen Race, the man who murdered both men, not criminally responsible for their 2007 deaths.

Three psychiatrists testified. Two were hired by the defence, one by the prosecution.  They all concluded Race -- a schizophrenic who believed he was following heavenly orders to wage war against vampires, demons and sinners when he stabbed the two men on separate occasions days apart -- was too psychotic, too delusional to understand what he was doing was wrong, or the acts' consequences.

Even prosecutors did not oppose defence lawyer Joel Pink's application to have his client declared not criminally responsible.

"He suffered from a mental disorder on both occasions," the judge agreed, adding his finding wasn't an acquittal. "Instead of a jail cell, Mr. Race will be detained in a secure hospital under the control of the state until such time as he is no longer a threat to public safety."

Except…

There was a third killing. After the Nova Scotia murders, Glen Race fled. He broke into a hunting lodge in upstate New York, killed the caretaker and stole his pickup truck. He was finally arrested in Texas as he attempted to get to Mexico.

Race was initially returned to New York State to be tried for first-degree murder. Despite psychiatrist assessments, his lawyer didn't even try to claim Race was not guilty by reason of insanity. He was convicted in 2008 and sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole.

Race was only allowed to return to Canada to face the murder charges here on the understanding that, as soon as Nova Scotia's legal proceedings ended, he would be returned to the notorious Attica Prison in New York to continue serving his life sentence. That's apparently already happened.

Race's Halifax lawyer, Joel Pink, is now trying to convince a New York law firm to attempt to reopen the case there. If not, Glen Race will end up in a prison instead of a hospital, punished because of his mental illness rather than treated for it.

This article first appeared in Stephen Kimber's Halifax Metro column.

Photo: Tom Flemming/flickr

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