The Parmenter family stands outside the Salmon Arm Law Courts on Tuesday, July 22, 2020, while attending the murder trial of Matrix Gathergood who is facing a murder charge for the killing of Gordon Parmenter. From left, Gordon’s grandson Jonathan, his spouse Peggy, his sons David and Tony, Tony’s spouse and Gord’s daughter-in-law Melissa, and Gord’s grandson Lucas. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)

Judge to decide if accused in Salmon Arm church shooting not guilty due to mental disorder

Court heard that man charged believed his life was in danger when he shot church elder

Matrix Gathergood believed he was saving himself from being killed when he shot Gordon Parmenter, according to testimony July 22 from a forensic psychiatrist in BC Supreme Court in Salmon Arm.

Gathergood is facing a charge of murder in the shooting death of church leader Gordon Parmenter and aggravated assault in the wounding of churchgoer Paul Derkach. The shooting took place April 14, 2019 in the Salmon Arm Church of Christ during a church service.

Gathergood, 25, pleaded not guilty, with his lawyer Jonathan Avis putting forward the defence of not criminally responsible due to a mental disorder.

Crown counsel Alison Buchanan did not challenge the defence, stating the psychiatric report from Dr. Andrew Kolchak supported the contention that Gathergood suffered from symptoms of psychosis, which made it difficult for him to rationally evaluate what he was doing and come to alternative solutions.

Kochak testified that he diagnosed Gathergood with schizophrenia, and said he believes he qualifies for the defence of not criminally responsible by way of mental disorder, which was active at the time of the offence.

Read more: Trial of man accused in church shooting begins July 21 in Salmon Arm

Read more: Man accused in Salmon Arm church shooting to stand trial by judge alone

He testified that Gathergood believed there was a new-world-order governing body, and he thought Parmenter, 78, was involved in it. Gathergood thought he was under threat from the victim.

Testimony in court also touched on the relationship between the two men, that Parmenter had been something of a father figure to Gathergood over the years.

The court also heard that Gathergood thought Parmenter blamed him for the Parmenters’ move from their home in Silver Creek.

Because Crown and defence had agreed on a statement of facts, no witnesses were called to testify about the events of that day; the psychiatrist was the lone witness. He testified and was questioned via telephone, while Gathergood appeared via video link from the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital in Coquitlam. Wearing a toque, he sat quietly throughout the proceedings.

If the judge agrees there has been enough evidence provided for a defence of not criminally responsible because of a mental disorder, it’s expected the case would be forwarded to the Forensic Psychiatric Commission for a disposition hearing. Options expected would include detaining the person in a psychiatric facility, discharging them with conditions and having them return for further assessments, or giving them an absolute discharge. The seriousness of the crime would generally affect the options.

Six members of the Parmenter family sat listening to the proceedings in Courtroom 202, where seating was limited because of COVID-19 restrictions.

Madam Justice Sheri Ann Donegan will read her decision at 2 p.m. Wednesday, July 23.


marthawickett@saobserver.net
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