A Ryder Lake man who killed his wife is unfit to stand trial, a Supreme Court justice ruled last Thursday.
David Miller stabbed his wife, Susan Miller, to death on Boxing Day of 2009. He was due to stand trial later this month on murder charges, but Thursday's ruling will see the 53-year-old man confined to a secure hospital, likely for the rest of his life.
Miller suffers from Huntington's disease, an irreversible disorder that causes both the body and mind to degenerate. Caused by a defective gene, the disorder has no cure and is always fatal.
So while he may never be tried in a court, Justice Brian Joyce noted that Miller has already been handed the harshest possible sentence.
"It appears that Mr. Miller's disease has imposed a life sentence on him and he will likely spend the remainder of his life in a forensic hospital."
Miller's lawyer, Paul McMurray, had conceded that his client killed his wife. Miller had been confined to hospital prior to the stabbing, but had been given day passes for both Christmas Day and Boxing Day to visit his family. A trial would have revolved around whether Miller could have formed the intent necessary for a murder conviction, and whether he was provided proper access to counsel following his arrest.
Miller had been deemed fit to stand trial last fall. But his condition deteriorated over the winter and in March, McMurray asked for his client to undergo a "neuropsychological test" to determine his fitness for the upcoming trial.
The court heard Thursday that the test showed Miller could not understand the legal process, could not understand any potential sentence, and could not communicate with counsel in order to participate in his defence.
McMurray said Miller suffers from delusions and has stated that he neither has nor needs a lawyer because he isn't facing any charges.
Crown counsel Henry Waldock agreed that the neurological report showed that Miller was unfit to stand trial.
"He forgets what happened yesterday," noted Waldock. "If that's the case, how is he going to participate at trial?"
Miller has been held in custody at a forensic psychiatric hospital in Port Coquitlam. He will likely remain there. By law, he must appear in front of a judge within two years in order to determine whether there is enough evidence to still justify charges. Joyce directed the court to schedule an appearance for Miller for February 2014.
However, Huntington's cannot be reversed and there is no expectation that Miller will ever stand trial.
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