Lawyer for accused in fatal PATH stabbing argues she is not criminally responsible
Chris Herhalt, CTV News Toronto
Published Friday, November 2, 2018 5:31AM EDT
Last Updated Friday, November 2, 2018 7:25PM EDT
The accused in the fatal stabbing of a newlywed in a Shoppers Drug Mart in the PATH system pleaded not guilty in court Friday, with lawyers arguing she was not criminally responsible for the offence by reason of mental illness.
The victim of the stabbing, 28-year-old Rosemarie Junor, was shopping in the pharmacy beneath Bay and Wellington streets on Dec. 11, 2015, talking to a friend on the phone.
According to an agreed statement of facts read out in court Friday, shortly before 3 p.m., 40-year-old Rohinie Bisesar stabbed Junor once in the heart and she bowled over immediately.
Multiple eyewitnesses and security cameras captured an interaction between 40-year-old Rohinie Bisesar and Junor in the store.
Before exiting the store, Bisesar was seen placing a small blood-stained knife on a display case, which was later located by an eyewitness.
Junor told an eyewitness “I just got stabbed,” before store staff and others helped her lie down behind a counter.
As she was transported to hospital an ambulance, Junor told a paramedic she did not know the person who stabbed her. Then she lost consciousness.
“They were complete strangers to each other with no known interaction until the day of the attack,” the agreed statement of facts reads.
Junor was rushed to St. Michael’s Hospital where she was put on life support. Four days later, a doctor declared her brain dead and she was taken off a ventilator.
She died on the night of Dec. 15.
Speaking to reporters Friday, Bisesar’s lawyer Robert Karrass said the Crown accepts his submission that Bisesar was suffering from a major mental illness at the time Junor was stabbed.
“When (the Crown) recognized there were legitimate claims to an NCR (not criminally responsible),they got on board with that position because they felt it was the right thing to do.”
Karrass said that his client was experiencing hallucinations and “command hallucinations” that took control of her physically.
Bisesar’s trial has been delayed several times over concerns about her mental health.
She told the court in April 2016 that she thought someone had implanted some sort of device inside her body.
A forensic psychiatrist told court earlier this year that Bisesar has schizophrenia but has responded well to medication and other treatment.
Dr. Ian Swayze said Friday Bisesar suffered from “fixed false beliefs” that she was under the control of mind control devices or nanotechnology at the time of the stabbing.
He conceded it is difficult sometimes for the public to accept the severity of mental health issues in cases where the accused is believed to be not criminally responsible.
“When you hear a voice telling you to do something and it’s the basis of a psychiatric illness that is a chemical imbalance and it is not a misbelief, there is no way of avoiding that. That is your reality,” he said.
A jury found Bisesar fit to stand trial last month.
Rosemarie Junor’s mother, Rosalind, speaking outside court, said she was ready to forgive Bisesar Friday, so long as she accepted responsibility for her daughter’s death.
“I was willing to forgive her from the bottom of my heart,” she said. “I was going to go down on my knees and say I forgive you, but it wasn’t there.”
She questioned the suggestion that Bisesar was controlled by psychosis.
“She used her hand with that weapon and stabbed my baby in her heart. She didn’t stay and wait or something,” she said.
A judge will render a verdict in the case on Nov. 6.