Lawyers are still determining the weight a recently disclosed Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) diagosis carries in the sentencing of a La Loche youth who murdered four people in January 2016.
The youth killed two brothers before arriving at the La Loche school where he shot several others, killing one teacher and a teacher's aide. He pleaded guilty to the charges and now awaits sentencing. The Crown is pursuing to sentence the youth as an adult.
The youth cannot be identified due to provisions under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.
Defence witness psychiatrist Dr. Mansfield Mela was part of the team who confirmed the teen's diagnosis and appeared via CCTV at the hearing this morning in Meadow Lake.
Mela said to diagnose FASD, there are three factors: the growth and height of a child, the presence of particular facial features, and an analysis of 10 different brain domains. When the youth's brain was tested, it was determined to have four deficiencies, which led Mela and others to conclude an FASD diagnosis.
Crown prosecutor Scott Bartlett asked why the diagnosis was not made sooner, as it was determined during a Gladue report in the midst of sentencing submissions.
Mela said the youth's mother disclosed her drinking history to the report writer. According to Mela, the mother said she relied on alcohol as a means of stress management and abuse recovery. The drinking stopped roughly two and a half months into the pregnancy, Mela said, and stopped once she determined she was pregnant. He added a reluctance to make that disclosure is common, adding it can trigger fear or shame. He said in the case of the youth, the presence of FASD confirmed his suspicions.
Final arguments from both defence and Crown are taking place this afternoon.
More to come.
On Twitter @ReporterKath
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