People close to Anthony Pratte-Lops say they are upset with Quebec's health care system that "abandoned" the 22-year-old, who is charged with first-degree murder in the death of his ex-girlfriend, Daphné Huard-Boudreault.
He was arrested and charged last month in Mont-Saint-Hilaire in the stabbing death of his 18-year-old ex.
Several people who knew Pratte-Lops well told Radio-Canada he's been suffering from mental health issues since he was a child.
Lorraine Guertin went out with Anthony Pratte-Lops for several years when he was a teenager. She told Radio-Canada that she remembers him as a great guy who was loved by everyone. However, sometimes he would lose control.
"He would lose it. He would become aggressive and not controllable," she said.
'I blame the system'
Monique, whose last name CBC/Radio-Canada has agreed to withhold, and her husband knew Pratte-Lops for 14 years.
According to Monique, from the time he was six years old, Pratte-Lops was an out-patient of Sainte-Justine Hospital's psychiatry department and diagnosed with severe attachment disorder and attention deficit disorder.
Monique said she felt his condition was worsening and, when he was 17, she tried several times to reach out to specialists to have him re-evaluated.
"I tried all the psychiatric services in the area, and we were turned away."
Monique said she tried for five years, but found that wait times were long. Also, many institutions in the Montérégie refused to treat Pratte-Lops because he did not live in the area.
"If someone is suffering from a heart attack, he would never be told that he was not in the right sector!" Monique said. "I blame the system and everyone who did not help him."
Monique added that the mental health care system is not appropriately adapted to help people with mental illnesses.
"I knocked on every door of the CLSC, but every time I was told that the individual himself has to ask for help."
Monique said Pratte-Lops did not accept that he had mental health issues and, after a few years, stopped taking his medication.
Former roommate says accused needs help
Kevin Gagnon shared an apartment in Beloeil, Que., with Pratte-Lops three years ago.
Gagnon told Radio-Canada he remembers his former roommate losing control and having fits of rage.
Gagnon had been living with Pratte-Lops for a few months, when he decided to gradually pack to move back to his parents' house. At first, Gagnon said that Pratte-Lops was understanding, but then he allegedly got very upset.
"One afternoon, he wrote to me, he called me, saying I really had to leave…I knew he blew a gasket," Gagnon said, adding that he went straight to the apartment to collect the rest of his belongings — accompanied by his mother.
"When we arrived, he had blown up. He wasn't himself anymore," Gagnon said. "We saw furniture on the floor, broken. He was throwing my things outside."
Gagnon's mother, Kellie-Ann Philbin, called the police.
"He was shaking, he was sweating and salivating a lot," Philibin said. "He was very angry. He was in a psychosis, that's what I felt like."
Pratte-Lops calmed down and apologized to his friend.
Gagnon thinks he needs help.
"It's nice to have medication prescribed, but don't think someone who has a problem like this is autonomous enough to medicate themselves...There need to be places for people like this to help them."
Not criminally responsible?
Monique and her husband have chosen a new lawyer for Pratte-Lops, who has been represented until now by legal aid.
Marie-Ève D'Anjou will take over on April 19, when Pratte-Lops is due back in court at the Saint-Hyacinthe courthouse.
She confirmed to Radio-Canada that a psychiatric evaluation is "one of the first avenues" that will be looked at. Using the defence of not-criminally responsible due to mental illness is being considered.
Victim's father 'still grieving'
The father of Daphné Huard-Boudreault says the mental health issue is news to him.
"I've never heard of that. Behavior problems, yes, but not mental problems. And I've known him for a long time," said Éric Boudreault, adding that he does not know yet if he will have the strength to attend the next court hearing.
"I'm still grieving, I do not even want to think about that for now."