The defence lawyers in the first-degree murder trial of Farshad Badakhshan delivered their opening statement Tuesday morning, arguing that Badakhshan is not criminally responsible for the death of a Ryerson student.
Badakhshan has pleaded not guilty to killing Carina Petrache, a criminology student at the time, on the grounds that he suffers from a mental disorder.
The defence said that it will call on a number of expert witnesses to determine his mental capabilities.
“You will hear evidence saying that Mr. Badakhshan is not criminally responsible for the murder of Ms. Petrache due to his mental illness,” Victoria Rivers, defence attorney, told the jury.
“Mr. Badakhshan’s mental disorder prevented him from thinking rationally about what he was doing.”
Among these witnesses is a senior forensic psychiatrist who will testify that Badakhshan was suffering from a psychotic episode on July 2, 2010 – the day Petrache was killed.
Rivers also told the court that Badakhshan’s unnamed illness is resistant to anti-psychotic medication and that he’s had symptoms since 2006.
Badakhshan is accused of stabbing the Ryerson criminology student in the torso and slitting her throat.
Earlier in the trial, the court heard that Petrache died from neck wounds and severe burns that covered more than half of her body.
The defence said it will also call on a fire investigator to rebut earlier testimony about the fire.
The jury has already heard many details about Petrache’s slit throat, stab wounds and burned body, but the defence hopes to put an emphasis on the defendant’s wounds.
They said that this will show he was not making rational decisions prior to the fire.
The 31-year-old Badakhshan, now confined to a wheelchair, also suffered severe burns and has undergone skin-grafting operations since the fire.
About 75 per cent of Badakhshan’s body was on fire, and he had to have his left leg amputated above the knee.
Doctors put him in a medically induced coma for weeks after the fire and, when Badakhshan awoke, he attempted suicide several times.
Several residents of the apartment building have already testified at the trial, including witness Volodymyr Selivanov.
Selivanov said Badakhshan was distant to others throughout 2010 and did not appear to have friends.
Adriana Moraru, the victim’s best friend, told the court that the couple had been dating for about three months before Petrache’s death. Their relationship, she said, quickly took a rocky course.
They broke up more than once, mainly due to Badakhshan’s possessive questions and numerous insults. Moraru called their relationship a “vicious cycle.”
Badakhshan’s mother was expected to testify to her son’s mental disorder symptoms Tuesday afternoon. The trial will continue throughout the week.
This story was first published in The Ryersonian, a weekly newspaper produced by the Ryerson School of Journalism, on March 5, 2014.