A judge has determined a man charged in connection to the murder of a Vanderhoof resident was not criminally responsible due to a mental disorder.
Justice Martha M. Devlin delivered her ruling over the case of Justin Johnston in Prince George Supreme Court on Tuesday, Sept. 21.
Johnston, 44, was facing charges of murder in the death of 62-year-old Joy Morris who was found dead in her home by RCMP on March 9, 2020 following a call for a ‘well-being’ check at the residence.
He was arrested in the South Okanagan, where he had recently moved, on April 10, 2020.
Police said in a media release Morris and Johnston had known each other and that the public was not at risk.
B.C.’s electronic court registry, Court Services Online, lists an offence date of January 21, 2020.
Originally Johnston was charged with second-degree murder.
He had pleaded guilty to manslaughter, and his defence had raised the issue of Johnston’s lack of criminal responsibility with Devlin ordering an assessment order pursuant to the Criminal Code to determine whether Johnston was at the time of the offence suffering from a mental disorder that would exempt him from criminal responsibility.
An assessment opinion report and a supplemental report were prepared this year by Dr. Niti Bhatia, a forensic psychiatrist at the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital (FPH) in Coquitlam.
On Monday, Sept. 20, Bhatia testified at the hearing where Devlin then heard submissions from Crown and defense.
In her oral reasons for judgment the following day, Devlin found Johnston was suffering from a mental disorder at the time of the offence which rendered him incapable of appreciating the nature and quality of the act.
Johnston has been ordered to be detained at the FPH.