Final Witnesses Called to Stand in Kachkar Trial
The final two witnesses to be called in the Richard Kachkar murder trial took the stand Monday on the last day of evidence.
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.
With the conclusion of evidence lawyers for the Crown and the defence will prepare closing arguments to deliver to the jury on Thursday. When closing arguments are complete, Judge Ian MacDonnell will present his final instructions to the jury and is expected to finish sometime on Monday. Once he delivers his final instructions the six man six woman jury will begin deliberations.
Kachkar's state of mind at the time of Sgt. Russell's death is the key question that jurors will consider.
The last of the evidence came on Day 23 of testimony and court heard from a pair of psychiatrists that met with Kachkar after Sgt. Russell's death in January of 2011.
The were among the almost 70 witnesses that testified in Kachkar's murder trial, which began on February 4th. 193 exhibits were entered into evidence including video, audio, and photos.
Dr. Graham Glancy met with Kachkar while in custody at the Maplehurst Correctional Facility and Toronto West Detention Centre in 2011.
Over a handful of meetings lasting about 20 minutes Glancy testified on Day 23 that he found no evidence of obvious psychotic symptoms.
His first encounter with Kachkar was 5 days after Sgt. Russell's death and he told court that if Kachkar had a major psychotic episode he "would generally expect" to see some psychotic symptoms, although admitted during cross examination that doesn't always occur.
He found it strange that during his first meeting Kachkar claimed to not remember much, failing to provide Dr. Glancy with details of his last address, his marital status, if he had children, and what season it was.
He found it "highly unusual that he (Kachkar) doesn't know anything."
To explain Kachkar's reported lack of memory he thought it may have been caused by a head injury (which he later ruled out) or that "he was making up pretending to (have a) mental disorder, which is always a possibility," he testified.
He met with Kachkar first in the Maplehurst infirmary where Kachkar's room was stripped down because he was on suicide watch. Kachkar did have a copy of the Toronto Sun that showed a picture relating to Sgt. Russell's death on the front page.
"He was unusual, he was odd and (I) was left thinking this is a very difficult case and required extended assessment," he testified about his overall impression after several meetings with Kachkar.
Dr. Lakshmi Voruganti was the final witness to be called in the trial. He met with Kachkar only once at Maplehurst about a week after Russell's death.
He also told court that he found no obvious signs of psychotic symptoms.
The defence argues that the meetings with Kachkar were too short and since the primary function was to access his suicide risk, the interactions do not paint a complete picture of Kachkar's mental state and never delved into his previous mental state.