Son facing double murder charges wasn’t sane at the time, father says


HALIFAX— From Thursday's Globe and Mail

The father of a man facing double murder charges in Nova Scotia says his son “wasn’t sane” at the time of the killings and hopes he will be found not criminally responsible.

Glen Race’s parents had already acknowledged their son’s struggle with schizophrenia. At a press conference on Wednesday, they and another son offered a frank glimpse of Mr. Race’s descent into psychosis.

“I believe that he had become so psychotic, so severely ill, that I guess I would call it his monster – for me, [it] overpowered him,” said his mother, Donna. “He wasn’t able to fight any more.”

Her 29-year-old son has been convicted of a 2007 murder in the United States. He faces first-degree-murder charges in the Halifax-area deaths of Trevor Brewster and Michael Knott, whose bodies were found early in 2007.

Mr. Race’s father, Mark, said on Wednesday that his son “wasn’t sane at that particular time.”

The family described the situation as worsening over the six years leading up to the killings. Mr. Race would withdraw from those close to him, and started giving up treasured possessions. He would act out of character, setting off on impromptu trips into the woods. The symptoms, which began to surface in his second year at Dalhousie University, prompted him to quit his fraternity and eventually drop out.  

But under the legislation of the time, the Race family couldn’t force him to receive treatment, and an unbalanced reality become the new normal for them.

Acknowledging that the case has left several families grieving, Mr. Race’s parents and brother called on Wednesday for increased assistance for the mentally ill and a more frank decision about mental health.

 “The only time that we start to talk about mental illness and mental health, as a general society, is when these extreme cases happen,” said Mr. Race’s younger brother, Doug, 26.

“So I want the general public to know that, no, people who suffer mental illness, they’re not ... going to potentially hurt you and that sort of thing. That is not the case; it’s very rare that this happens.”

Before being brought back to Canada last October, Mr. Race was convicted of first-degree murder in a killing in upstate New York. He was sentenced to 25 years to life and there is faint hope he will avoid being returned to the United States.

 “The most fear I ever had was losing my son – and in the end I did lose him, you know, through his mental illness and through the crime,” Ms. Race said.

“We do visit Glen,” she added. “He’s doing fairly well. He looks good. He doesn’t look like the Glen that had committed these crimes. There’s a difference in his appearance, you know, when he was sick. He’s still sick, but it’s so much different when you are on medication.”