Daniel Goodridge won’t be going back to the Edmonton Remand Centre. After being declared not criminally responsible for the double homicide at a work camp in Fox Creek, he’ll be in custody at the Alberta Hospital in Edmonton until the Alberta Review Board decides what should happen to him.
Justice K.G. Nielsen delivered his verdict in front of a packed courtroom in Grande Prairie Thursday morning, following four days of testimony and a fifth for closing arguments. While the decision wasn’t what the Crown was asking for, Chief Crown Prosecutor Steven Hinkley hopes the public has a better understanding of what happened the morning of June 30, 2015.
“In this particular case, there was a lot of evidence and a lot of it quite gruesome, but there was also a lot of evidence as to the mental health state that led up to it. I can say with some confidence that the people who were there in the courtroom… are in a different position now in understanding the full four corners of what and why than we were when we started.”
Justice Nielsen found that while Goodridge understood the consequences of his actions, his mental disorder meant he didn’t understand that they were morally wrong. He remarked that the incident was a “tragedy on every level” and that those attacked were “truly innocent victims.”
“They define being in the wrong place at the wrong time,” he said, adding, “Hopefully everyone impacted by this matter will now be able to move on with their lives.”
In an agreed statement of facts, Goodridge admits to stabbing and killing 37-year-old David Derksen and 50-year-old Hally Dubois at the Berland Open Lodge where they all worked. He also admits to cutting off pieces of Derksen’s body and setting his corpse on fire, as well as assaulting two other employees and a police officer with a knife.
Goodridge pleaded not guilty to two counts of first-degree murder, one count of interfering with human remains, and three counts of assault with a weapon on the basis of a mental disorder. The court heard he has had a history of mental illness since he was 14 years old, and had been diagnosed with schizophrenia, among other disorders.
Medical experts testified that Goodridge said he had been hearing negative voices in his head in the days leading up to the murders, and that he was suffering from paranoia that he would be attacked or raped by the other workers at the camp. He said he felt the only way to get rid of the voices was to “slaughter” everyone he came across.
All of the evidence in the case will now be sent to the review board, which is supposed to have a hearing within 45 days to decide whether he should be given a full discharge, a discharge with conditions, or remain in custody in the psychiatric hospital until further notice. Hinkley explains that once a decision is made, it’s not final.
“The review board consistently and over time continues to review people; they don’t make one disposition and then forget about it,”
One factor that’s likely to come up is Goodridge’s history of not taking his medication. His mother testified that she wasn’t sure if he continued when he wasn’t living with his parents, and his ex-girlfriend said she’d never seen him take any prescription drugs during their relationship.
“[The review board is] required to assess all of the facts with public safety in mind, and commons sense simply says that if someone is not compliant with their medications, managing their risk becomes harder,” explains Hinkley.
Moving forward, the Crown will be considering whether it will apply for Goodridge to be given a “high-risk accused” designation. If granted, it could mean he would be kept in custody in hospital for longer. However, Hinkley says they weren’t prepared to do so Thursday.
“We will look at what we already know, which was heard in the trial, but the piece that the legislation requires is a… current assessment of his treatment level of mental health and risk, which we don’t have because we’re so far from the offence dates.”
The application can be made up until an absolute discharge is granted.