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Man not criminally responsible for killing worker he thought was a zombie, B.C. judge rules

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The man who stabbed Eric Kutzner, 79, to death at a Vancouver Island cafe two years ago has been found not criminally responsible – after court heard a mental illness caused him left convinced that his innocent victim was a zombie.

James Carey Turok was found guilty of second-degree murder in British Columbia’s Supreme Court, but he will be treated at a forensic psychiatric hospital in the Lower Mainland instead of serving a life sentence.

Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes noted that two different psychiatrists concluded that Turok had suffered from bipolar-type schizoaffective disorder for years before the murder.

“Mr. Turok’s mental disorder rendered him incapable of appreciating the nature and quality of his actions,” Holmes wrote in his Decision of March 27which was posted online on Thursday.

“His psychosis made him believe that Mr. Kutzner was not human.”

Victim helping in her daughter’s store

The disturbing and unprovoked attack on Kutzner took place on February 12, 2022 at Buzz Coffee House, which was owned by his daughter.

Court heard Kutzner often helped out at the Nanaimo business – which has since closed – and was there before opening to bake pastries the morning he was killed.

Turok entered through a door that Kutzner had left open for arriving employees and began stabbing him “repeatedly in the face, neck, chest and back,” according to the decision.

Workers who showed up around 8:45 a.m. found that same door locked.

“Looking inside, they saw Mr. Kutzner’s blood-soaked legs and Mr. Turok walking around, dripping with blood,” Holmes wrote.

In the aftermath of the tragic incident, Turok told police that his victim was a “zombie” or a “catbag” – remarks he did not remember making during his interview with the two psychiatrists before the trial.

Those close to him remembered Kutzner as a vibrant member of the community – a volunteer who was dedicated to advocating for senior housing and helping people with disabilities.

A story of remission and relapse

Medical records indicate Turok first showed signs of psychosis in 2012 and experienced a series of hospitalizations, remissions and relapses in the years that followed.

“He was hospitalized in 2012, 2014, 2016 and 2020, during which he performed well in the community while taking antipsychotic medication, either voluntarily or as a condition of extended leave under the Health Act. mental health,” Holmes wrote.

After stopping her medication, her psychotic symptoms returned.

However, there was no evidence that his mental illness had led to serious violence before, and his criminal record contained only one misdemeanor count.

His psychotic symptoms generally led him to believe he had “special significance in healing and guiding people,” according to the ruling, as well as the ability to “communicate telepathically, including with celebrities, political figures and others “.

Declining mental state

To those who knew Turok, his mental health appeared to be deteriorating in the days leading up to the killing — with some noting “strange behavior” including “almost incoherent and conspiracy-driven” remarks, Holmes wrote.

The court heard that at that point he had been off medication for almost 18 months.

“Three days before the offence, Mr. Turok showed up at the Nanaimo Regional General Hospital in a state of agitation, demanding to see one of his psychiatrists, and left in anger, screaming and shouting. kicked the door, when he was not in a position to do so,” the deputy chief justice said.

“Only about an hour before the offense, Mr Turok drove his car into a median, where he abandoned it with the keys still in the ignition.”

Having concluded that he was not criminally responsible due to mental disorder, Turok’s case was referred to the British Columbia Review Board for a hearing to take place within 90 days of the decision.

In the meantime, Turok was sent to the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital, a secure facility in Coquitlam to treat the seriously mentally ill in hopes of eventually reintegrating them into society.

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