Merritt, B.C. dad found not criminally responsible for killing his three kids

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KAMLOOPS, B.C. - A Merritt, B.C., father was in a psychotic state when he killed his three children and is therefore not criminally responsible for his actions, a B.C. Supreme Court judge has ruled.
Allan Schoenborn, 41, sat quietly with his head bowed Monday when Judge Robert Powers found him guilty of three counts of first-degree murder but not to blame for what he'd done.
Earlier, Schoenborn twice swore at Powers while he read his ruling.
Powers said no one can know for sure if Schoenborn was suffering from a mental disorder when he killed his daughter and two sons in April 2008 but that on the balance of probabilities it's more likely that he was.
Powers pointed to Schoenborn's history of psychotic behaviour in the months, weeks and days leading up to the murders.
He rejected the Crown's assertion that Schoenborn killed his children as revenge against their mother, who discovered their bodies in their home.
"I find it unlikely (he) would have killed his children out of anger given the close and caring relationship he had with his children," said Powers, who heard the case without a jury.
"Mr. Schoenborn, if anything, was overprotective. The irony is that the real danger to the children was Mr. Schoenborn himself and none of the dangers that he imagined in his mind."
But Powers said Schoenborn's imaginary fears can't justify his crime.
"Any reasonable or rational person would know that was wrong," he said. "However, due to his psychosis at the time he was not able to make that decision."
Powers said Schoenborn must appear before the British Columbia Review Board within 90 days to determine where he will be held.
Outside court, Schoenborn's defence lawyer, Peter Wilson, called the verdict "the right result."
"It shows the system works," Wilson said. "It's clear Mr. Schoenborn was mentally ill. He loved his children. What he did didn't make any sense. He loved them."
During the trial, Wilson maintained Schoenborn was living a "psychotic reality" and believed that killing his children was the morally right thing to do.
Forensic psychiatrist Dr. Shabehram Lohrasbe, who twice interviewed Schoenborn in jail, testified that Schoenborn told him he killed his kids because they were being sexually abused and it was his duty to protect them.
There was no evidence in court to suggest that the children were, in fact, being abused.
In his testimony, Schoenborn described how he slashed his 10-year-old daughter Kaitlynne with a cleaver and then suffocated eight-year-old Max and five-year-old Cordon.
In one chilling exchange, Schoenborn told the court that Kaitlynne fought back as he slashed at her neck and pleaded with him to forgive her.
Wilson cited the testimony of two psychiatrists as evidence that Schoenborn, who's never been professionally diagnosed with a mental illness, suffers from a major disorder.
Dr. Roy O'Shaughnessy told the court that he felt the killings were influenced by mental illness.
But Lohrasbe, who testified for the Crown, said that while he agreed Schoenborn suffered from illness, it was also possible he killed out of anger towards his estranged common-law wife after she severed their 15-year relationship.
Schoenborn would often veer off in odd directions and say things that didn't connect, Lohrasbe said of the man's behaviour during the interviews.
Lohrasbe told the court that when he asked Schoenborn to explain the days leading up to the children's death and what may have set off the murders, he gave a very unusual response.
"He said, `the fucking day I met her,"' Lohrasbe testified last December, adding that Schoenborn was referring to the children's mother, Darcie Clarke.
He said Schoenborn told him that he didn't think of killing Clarke but that he murdered the children, saying `Those kids are mine. Darcie is not mine to take.'
Lohrasbe also testified that Schoenborn told him he says good morning to his three dead children when he wakes up and good night when he goes to sleep.

Organizations: B.C. Supreme Court, British Columbia Review Board

Geographic location: KAMLOOPS

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