Two Psychiatrists Found Kachkar Had No Psychotic Symptoms
On the second-last day of evidence in the Richard Kachkar murder trial, two psychiatrists called to testify by the Crown told court they found no evidence of psychotic symptoms in their interactions with the now 46 year-old man in 2011.
Kachkar has pleaded not guilty to first degree murder in the death of Toronto Police Sgt. Ryan Russell. There is no dispute his was driving the stolen snowplow that killed the father of one, but his lawyer argues that Kachkar should be found not criminally responsible in his death.
Psychiatrist Dr. Mark Ben-Aron treated Kachkar over approximately 25 meetings in 2011, the first about two weeks after Sgt. Russell's death.
He immediately found Kachkar to be "responsive...he demonstrated good eye contact...(his) speech was coherent...(and found) no evidence of psychotic symptoms."
Kachkar was considered a danger to himself and was placed on suicide watch, later admitting to Ben-Aron that he "didn't want to live, but had no thoughts of harming himself."
Throughout their 20-30 minute meetings Kachkar was "pre-occupied" with what had happened, expressing remorse and "struggled to understand what had happened."
Ben-Aron testified that Kachkar told him it was "something so out of character" and that he "snapped."
Dr. Christopher Willer spoke with Kachkar the day after Sgt. Russell's death in his role as the chief psychiatric resident at St. Michael's hospital.
In a 40-45 minute meeting he too found no signs of psychotic symptoms.
"(He) felt remorseful... (and) wanted to make amends," testified Willer. "He was worried about what was going to happen to him next."
"He didn't appear to have troubles answering my questions or following the logic of my questions," Willer told court.
Kachkar had come out of surgery when Willer spoke with him and said he would occasionally go blank for a few moments before being able to return to the question.
The defence argued that Willer's one meeting with Kachkar wasn't enough time to get an accurate picture and that Ben-Aron, as a treating psychiatrist, wasn't looking for the same details and information as others that have assessed Kachkar.
Three forensic psychiatrists that assessed Kachkar were called by the defence and agreed that he was psychotic at the time of Sgt. Russell's death.
The final evidence in the trial is expected to be presented on Monday with both sides likely to deliver their closing arguments to the jury late next week.