Third Psychiatrist Thinks Kachkar Was Psychotic
As expected, the third psychiatrist to be called to the witness stand by the defence in the Richard Kachkar murder trial agrees that Kachkar was having a psychotic episode in January of 2011.
Dr. John Bradford, a forensic psychiatrist that has assessed Col. Russell Williams and Paul Bernardo, told court Monday that like the other two psychiatrists to testify in this case, he believes Kachkar was psychotic at the time Sgt. Ryan Russell was struck and killed by a stolen snowplow.
There is no dispute that Kachkar was driving the vehicle, but his lawyer is arguing that Kachkar should be found not criminally responsible in his death because he was suffering from a mental illness that made him unable to appreciate his actions and right from wrong.
Kachkar has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder.
“My opinion is that he was most likely psychotic through the whole time,” Bradford testified. “His behavior was driven by fear of something or some things unknown.”
“I didn’t think there was any logic to it,” said Bradford of Kachkar’s reason for taking the plow and driving through Toronto January 12th 2011. “I thought it flowed from a psychotic state.”
Bradford spent over five hours with Kachkar at the Toronto West Detention Centre in August of 2011 and then over a 60-day period while Kachkar was at a Brockville facility.
“He certainly had disjointed thinking and disjointed conversations. It wasn’t an easy conversation…he was all over the place.”
Like Dr. Philip Klassen and Dr. Lisa Ramshaw, Bradford said he “struggled” with a diagnosis, but that doesn’t change his opinion about Kachkar’s mental state.
Although Kachkar has expressed to some that he has very limited memory from the morning Russell was killed, he was able to recall some details for Bradford.
Kachkar told the psychiatrist that he remembered seeing “somebody getting out of a car…didn’t think they were shooting at me…they were shooting at me,” according to Bradford.
According to testimony from Dr. Lisa Ramshaw last week Kachkar told the psychiatrist he remembered Russell shooting at him on Avenue Road but that he tried to avoid hitting the officer.
Bradford testified that Kachkar told him he “didn’t remember hitting the police officer.”
Despite his belief that Kachkar was psychotic Bradford, like the other psychiatrists to assess the now 46 year-old man, found inconsistencies with his story.
“It’s all collateral information that becomes important,” testified Bradford.
Hearing that Kachkar spoke blamed his sister when police finally stopped him and that he expressed fears that first responders would poison him, Bradford believed it was further evidence that Kachkar was suffering from a psychotic episode.
“Sounds like he is psychotic at the time…he is fearful.”
Kachkar reported to Bradford and others that he felt scared and paranoid leading up to Russell’s death. The crown has suggested during the trial that Kachkar’s actions don’t reflect that because he was aggressive at times while driving the snowplow.
“Being aggressive or pushing back can also be part of the equation,” said Bradford under questioning from the defence, suggesting that Kachkar could still be irrationally paranoid while acting aggressively because of his perception at the time. “He could try and be threatening because he is worried about people threatening him.”
Bradford is the defence’s final witness. The jury has heard the Crown is planning on calling further evidence in response. All evidence is expected to be completed early next week.