Content warning: This story contains details of graphic violence that may be unsettling for some readers.
A Halifax man has been found not criminally responsible by way of mental disorder in the 2019 death of his mother.
The decision was handed down Wednesday morning at the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia in Halifax.
Linda Lamontagne, 65, was found dead at a Willow Street residence on Oct. 22, 2019. Later that day, her son, 27-year-old Ryan Richard Lamontagne, was charged with second-degree murder and indignity to human remains.
The Crown and defence jointly recommended a not criminally responsible hearing for Lamontagne, arguing he was suffering from a mental health crisis at the time of his mother’s death.
Justice Joshua Arnold told the courtroom he would follow the unanimous expert opinion delivered in testimonies during a hearing that began Jan. 27.
The proceedings Wednesday lasted 15 minutes.
“Ryan Lamontagne had undiagnosed schizophrenia,” Arnold wrote in his 52-page decision. “This led to his being in a delusional, hallucinatory, disorganized, psychotic state during the critical times on October 21 and 22, 2019.”
‘Difficulty discerning reality from fantasy’
An autopsy of Linda Lamontagne’s body indicated she suffered a gruesome death. Examiners noted she suffered both blunt force head trauma and a fractured larynx, indicative of strangulation or suffocation.
Both of her arms were “significantly” broken and her scalp removed, according to Arnold’s decision. A pendant was also found lodged in her throat.
A tenant alerted police the next morning, who found Lamontagne attempting to bury his mother’s remains in his backyard.
Two experts in forensic psychiatry, Dr. Joel Watts and Dr. Scott Theriault, both reached the conclusion that Lamontagne was suffering from a severe episode of schizophrenia at the time of his mother’s death.
During the hearing, the court heard a 16-hour video statement Lamontagne gave to Halifax Regional Police.
“He also made numerous bizarre and delusional statements,” Arnold wrote, describing Lamontagne’s statement to police. “At times, he had difficulty discerning reality from fantasy and his thoughts were disorganized.”
Lamontagne told investigators he walked to Dartmouth and took a drive from a stranger before running home, “wondering if what he did to his mother was a dream,” according to Arnold’s decision.
“None of the evidence supports a finding that Mr. Lamontagne was either faking his symptoms or that his mental state was self-induced due to the ingestion of drugs,” Arnold wrote.
Case moves to disposition hearing
A week after his arrest, Lamontagne was remanded for a 60-day mental health assessment and treatment at the East Coast Forensic Hospital in Dartmouth.
Lamontagne returned to court in February 2020, where he waived his right to a preliminary inquiry of the case, fast-tracking the process to trial.
The case now moves to a disposition hearing where Lamontagne faces one of three outcomes: an absolute discharge, a conditional discharge or remaining in hospital under police custody.
“No person is criminally responsible for an act committed or an omission made while suffering from a mental disorder that rendered the person incapable of appreciating the nature and quality of the act or omission or of knowing that it was wrong,” according to the Criminal Code of Canada.
About the author
Stephen Wentzell is an ambitious and resilient investigative writer from Halifax, Nova Scotia. He has been a journalist for a third of his life....