Daniel Goodridge’s mental state at the time of the 2015 double homicide in Fox Creek will be the focus of his two-week trial. It got underway at the Grande Prairie Provincial Courthouse Monday morning, with around 40 people in the gallery.
To start, the 31-year-old pleaded not guilty to two counts of first-degree murder, three counts of assault with a weapon against two civilians and an officer, and interfering with human remains. His lawyer Anna Konye of Edmonton said his pleas were on the basis of mental disorder.
Goodridge’s mother Jean Goodridge was the first witness to testify Monday afternoon. She told the court that her son was easy going and the life of the party as a child, but that changed when he moved to middle school.
She says Daniel became withdrawn and struggled academically, so much so that he agreed to be homeschooled. He reportedly developed unusual behaviours, like laughing when no one else was and talking to himself, which Jean calls “early signs something else was going on.”
That behaviour became Daniel’s norm, but as he got older Jean says he started to have worse episodes and first tried to take his own life at 14 years old. Personal records show he was committed under the Mental Health Act six or seven times over 15 years, but Jean says it was always voluntarily.
Jean says over the years she was able to notice signs of when her son was starting to feel “unwell” and noticed them in late June 2015. However, she didn’t talk about them with then-28 year old Daniel before he returned to work at the Berland Open Lodge camp in Fox Creek.
“And I regret that to this day,” she told the courtroom, becoming emotional for the first time since taking the stand.
She also says Daniel didn’t call his family to let them know he had made it to camp, which was unusual for him. He had been working in the camp’s kitchen for two years.
It was early in the morning hours of June 30, 2015 that Fox Creek RCMP got reports of a man attacking people with a butcher knife. By the time officers arrived, 37-year-old Dave Derksen of LaCrete and 50-year-old Hally Dubois of Red Deer were already dead. An agreed statement of facts submitted as evidence details that Goodridge also cut off numerous parts of Derksen’s body and seemingly tried to set them on fire.
Jean believes she heard about her son’s arrest the next day, and that he had been shot by police and was in hospital. To this day, she says she still hasn’t discussed with him what happened. However, she says that when he was in hospital, he didn’t seem to understand why he was chained to his hospital bed or why he was being told to get a lawyer.
The murder trial is scheduled to run through November 9th. Three doctors are watching the proceedings via CCTV and could provide expert testimony to the judge, Justice K.G. Nielsen. He has already had to make one decision, which was to allow graphic photos of the victims to become evidence.
Efforts are also now being made to ensure Goodridge is treated appropriately while in custody at the Grande Prairie RCMP detachment. He has been there since Friday, and told Konye that he has not been able to shower, and has not been given toothpaste, deodorant, or a change of clothing.
This was brought up before Monday’s proceedings, and since then Konye has connected with a corporal who says he will allow her to bring her client those items. Justice Nielsen urged that Goodridge needs to be able to fully participate in the court process.