A psychiatrist called as a rebuttal witness for the Crown at Kellie Johnson’s murder trial believes Johnson knew what she was doing was wrong when she killed her son.
Dr. Olubankole Obikoya said Johnson was suffering from schizophrenia when she killed her son, but still had the ability to make rational decisions.
Johnson is charged with first-degree murder in the death of five-year-old Jonathan Vetter, who died after Johnson cut his throat on Jan. 4, 2014, in their Saskatoon home.
Obikoya testified for the Crown on Thursday after defence lawyer Leslie Sullivan closed her case at the trial, where Sullivan is arguing Johnson should be found not guilty because she was suffering from a mental disorder that made her incapable of knowing the act was wrong.
Earlier this week, Dr. Mansfield Mela, a psychiatrist, and Lindsay Robertson, a psychologist, testified they believed Johnson did not know what she was doing was wrong because she believed she was saving her son from a life of eternal damnation, in the context of the delusions she was suffering at the time.
Johnson reported she was hearing the voice of an evil “woman” who told her she was going to die that night, which Johnson believed would mean her son would be unprotected from the fate the woman promised for him: being molested, then turning into a pedophile and spending his eternal life in hell.
She had been hearing the voice of the woman since 2008 and had previously made accusations of child molestation against someone, but the allegations were determined to be unfounded. Johnson said she believed the woman controlled the souls of all her family members, both living and dead, and in the days leading up to killing her son, the “torment” from the woman increased in intensity, according to the psychiatric reports filed at her trial.
Analyzing Johnson’s actions within that delusional belief system, Mela and Robertson concluded Johnson believed that by killing her son, she was doing the right thing to protect and saving him — sending him to heaven to be with God.
Obikoya came to a different conclusion.
“I realize that she has hallucinations and delusions and she has a schizophrenic illness, but I knew also that those experiences doesn’t mean she had to be unable to appreciate what she was doing,” Obikoya testified.
“In other words, individuals who have schizophrenia … are capable of making choices and making the right choices as well.”
While receiving treatment at Saskatchewan Hospital in North Battleford after the offence, Johnson said she believed she would be forgiven because she did the right thing, but Obikoya questioned whether she was being truthful.
“It was the impression she was trying to create, but it necessarily doesn’t mean we should believe that impression,” he testified. “In other words … that belief that she was doing something right, does not necessarily represent a valid belief.”
Closing arguments at the trial are scheduled for Aug. 19 in Saskatoon Court of Queen’s Bench, after which Justice Neil Gabrielson will likely reserve his decision to another future date.
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