Halifax man who killed mom during psychotic episode found not criminally responsible

·2 min read

A Halifax man with schizophrenia who told police he believed he was fighting zombies when he murdered his mother in 2019 has been found not criminally responsible for the woman's death.

The verdict means Ryan Richard Lamontagne, 27, will remain at the East Coast Forensic Hospital in Dartmouth under the supervision of the Criminal Code Review Board, subject to periodic review hearings.

In rendering his decision Tuesday, Justice Joshua Arnold of the Nova Scotia Supreme Court said he accepted a joint recommendation from the Crown and the defence to find Lamontagne not criminally responsible by reason of a mental disorder.

"None of the evidence supports a finding that Mr. Lamontagne was either faking his symptoms or that his mental state was self-induced due to the ingestion of drugs," said Arnold.

"The evidence clearly supports a finding that he not only had a mental disorder at the time of the offences, schizophrenia, but also that his schizophrenia caused him to enter a psychotic state at the time he killed and mutilated his mother."

Arrested in October 2019

Lamontagne has been held at the forensic hospital since his arrest on Oct. 22, 2019. He was charged with second-degree murder and indignity to human remains.

Blair Rhodes/CBC
Blair Rhodes/CBC

Police responding to a 911 call on that October day found Lamontagne in the yard of the home he shared with his 65-year-old mother. Her naked body was lying on the ground beside him and he was digging a hole. When challenged by police, Lamontagne asked if he could finish burying his mother.

Two forensic psychiatrists who examined Lamontagne after his arrest determined he was experiencing a psychotic episode on the day of the murder, brought on by schizophrenia that had not yet been diagnosed.

Following his arrest, Lamontagne was questioned by police over a 16-hour period. A partial transcript of that interview was included in Arnold's decision.

'I never thought that was my mom after'

At one point, Lamontagne refers to himself as "the false prophet." He said he believed "there was this war going on between aliens" at the time of his mother's death and that he "was supposed to go out and fight zombies."

"I turned into, like, a vampire or something," he told officers. "I never thought that was my mom after."

Murder trials are usually held before a judge and jury, but the Crown agreed to a defence request to have the case proceed by judge alone.

"Difficult case, I think, for everyone," defence lawyer Brad Sarson said Tuesday outside court.

"Mr. Lamontagne, I know, is relieved that this part of it is over. Obviously he'll be carrying this with him for the rest of his life. But I know that the court procedure's making him anxious, the whole process, so that's now behind him. He can start to move on, I guess."