Evidence suggests Cory Daniel Barry was unstable and suffering from a mental disorder when 15-year-old Justin Wendland was fatally stabbed, his defence lawyer told a B.C. Supreme Court judge on Tuesday.
Barry, 41, pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder in the stabbing death, which took place June 3, 2010, as Wendland waited at a bus stop in front of the Times Colonist building on Douglas Street.
During closing arguments on Tuesday, defence lawyer Jeff Johnston said it was important to look at Barry’s state of mind at the time, but pointed out that expert witness Dr. Shabehram Lohrasbe, a forensic psychiatrist, indicated Barry was not easy to assess.
“He found Mr. Barry to be a ‘baffling’ case,” Johnston said.
A head injury suffered in 2004, ongoing mental-health issues and substance abuse were all part of a “constellation” of factors in Barry’s life, he said.
“We say there is a large body of evidence on the medical side of this,” he said, adding a “live issue” in the trial concerns whether Barry was able to understand the nature of what he was doing.
Further, Johnston said, there appears to have been no interaction between Barry and Wendland prior to the stabbing.
“There is no provocation by the victim.”
Johnston said Barry was afraid and struck because he thought Wendland was an “affiliate” of a gang that he was sure was following him.
“There are two puncture wounds, and the tragic result is that one of them is fatal.”
Wendland’s mother, Raj, was in the courtroom, as was Rev. Al Tysick, who knows Barry through the Our Place social agency.
“I’ve known Cory Barry for a while, and I just wanted to be in court supporting him through the last couple of days of this trial,” Tysick said outside the courthouse.
Tysick, the former executive director of Our Place, said the trial is clearly difficult for all concerned.
“It’s so hard to watch the mom there and watch the family of that boy [Wendland]. My heart goes out to that family and to Barry.”
Tysick said he is aware of Barry’s struggles while living in the street, as well as the efforts made to help him. Cost, finding the right support system and substance abuse can all work against getting someone like Barry into stable shelter, he said.
“He didn’t trust any of us. We let him down over his lifetime.”
The Crown is scheduled to makes its final submission today. The case is being heard without a jury by Justice Brian MacKenzie.
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