A Winnipeg man who admits choking his housemate to death with a kitchen bench was driven by a delusion she was possessed by a demon, a court has heard.
Kodey Lionel Trudeau, 35, pleaded not guilty Thursday to second-degree murder in the January 2020 killing of 49-year-old Reagan Danielle Gross, arguing he was suffering from a mental disorder at the time.
A two-day hearing is expected to wrap up Friday, after which Queen’s Bench Justice Ken Champagne will rule whether Trudeau should be found not criminally responsible for the killing.
If Trudeau is found not criminally responsible for Gross’s death, his case becomes the responsibility of the Manitoba Criminal Review Board, which will decide whether he can be released from custody or requires further time in a psychiatric facility.
Trudeau appeared for the hearing via video from Headingley Correctional Centre.
Court heard Gross had been renting a basement suite in Trudeau’s St. Vital home for a few months prior to her death. After attacking Gross, Trudeau fled the house in a T-shirt and no shoes, arriving a short time later at a neighbour’s home, where he asked a man to call 911 for him.
"I think I killed Reagan Gross because she had something stuck inside of her, something evil and it wouldn’t come out," Trudeau told a 911 operator on a recording played for court.
“I think I killed Reagan Gross because she had something stuck inside of her, something evil and it wouldn’t come out.” – Kodey Lionel Trudeau told a 911 operator
Const. Ian Bale, one of the first officers to arrive at the neighbour’s house, said Trudeau appeared "stone cold and emotionless" and had a "1000-mile stare" as he sat handcuffed in the backseat of a police cruiser.
"I remember him sitting upright, very close to the partition, with his eyes very wide open," Bale said. "It was as if nothing was getting through to him."
In a police video interview provided to court, Trudeau briefly resisted questioning by detectives Justin Parry and David McDonald before freely admitting to beating Gross, claiming she had attacked him and was possessed by a "demon."
Trudeau said he "pile-drove" Gross into the kitchen floor before stomping on her head and beating her with a fry pan. Trudeau said he put a kitchen bench across Gross’ neck and sat on it with all his weight, as she continued to fight back. Ten or 15 minutes later she was dead and he fled the house, he said.
An autopsy determined Gross died as the result of asphyxiation.
Trudeau described the demon as "probably some kind of lost soul that went the wrong way… a soul from hell."
Trudeau described the demon as “probably some kind of lost soul that went the wrong way… a soul from hell.”
Parry asked Trudeau if he thought he did something wrong.
"To kill the demon or the body?" Trudeau replied. "What am I going to do? Tell the demon to f—- off? …The power this thing had, you can’t just sit there."
Trudeau admitted to using crack and meth in the past, but said he had not consumed any drugs for at least a few days prior to the attack.
McDonald testified Trudeau appeared "oddly open" about what he did.
"He (Trudeau) seemed to volunteer (details) very freely, almost with a sense of pride or self–justification.” – David McDonald, detective
"It seemed he had no remorse for what happened, which struck me as odd," McDonald said. "I don’t think he was conscious of any consequences for his actions… He seemed to volunteer (details) very freely, almost with a sense of pride or self-justification."
Portions of the interview video showed Trudeau alone in the interview room appearing to talk to himself or somebody who wasn’t there.
The hearing resumes Friday with testimony from doctors who examined Trudeau.
Someone once said a journalist is just a reporter in a good suit. Dean Pritchard doesn’t own a good suit. But he knows a good lawsuit.