A judge has found a Winnipeg man not criminally responsible for killing a woman while in the grip of a delusion she was possessed by a demon.
Kodey Trudeau was arrested and charged with second-degree murder Jan 10, 2020, after he beat and choked housemate Reagan Gross to death in the kitchen of his St. Vital neighbourhood home.
Gross, 49, had moved into the house just a couple of months prior.
Trudeau freely admitted killing Gross and, in a police interview a short time later, told investigators she had been "infected" by a demon that meant him harm.
A medical team tasked with assessing Trudeau concluded he was suffering from a "brief psychotic disorder" at the time of the slaying, and did not know what he was doing was wrong.
"This case is not a typical criminal case and the only issue for me to decide is if Kodey Trudeau is criminally responsible for his actions," Queen’s Bench Justice Ken Champagne said Friday.
"In my view, the evidence is clear," Champagne said. "Kodey Trudeau was suffering from a brief psychotic disorder… when he committed this horrible crime."
Forensic psychiatrist Dr. Eric Johnson said he found no evidence Trudeau was feigning illness to escape responsibility.
Johnson said Trudeau continued to believe Gross had been possessed by a demon months later, when he was no longer suffering psychotic episodes.
"The belief that a demon was there was a very important factor in effecting his understanding of the situation at the time," Johnson said.
Lawyers for both the Crown and defence recommended Champagne find Trudeau not criminally responsible for the killing.
"It was clear from the outset to police and myself that this was not a normal situation," said Crown attorney Chris Vanderhooft. "It was clear Mr. Trudeau was behaving in a way during his police interview and during a 911 call that was not typical of what we see in many other homicide investigations."
Court heard a full psychiatric assessment of Trudeau was delayed several months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, making a more precise diagnosis difficult.
"That being said… it’s clear that the assessment team conducted a thorough, lengthy and detailed review of the file," Vanderhooft said.
Several of Gross’ family members and friends attended court Friday.
"She didn’t deserve this, that’s all I want to say," said a man who identified himself as Gross’ brother.
Trudeau’s case now becomes the responsibility of the Manitoba Criminal Review Board, who will decide whether he can be safely released from custody or requires further time in a psychiatric facility. The board is required to set a hearing within the next 90 days.
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.