The jury returned their verdict within 15 minutes of deliberating, after hearing testimony from forensic psychiatrist Dr. Ian Swayze. He said Bisesar, 43, is now consenting to treatment for schizophrenia at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health using anti-psychotic drugs. She is in “full or substantive” remission from her symptoms, he said, which included a belief that her movements were being controlled by a device implanted in her body.
Bisesar was charged with first-degree murder for allegedly fatally stabbing Junor in a Shoppers Drug Mart in the PATH tunnels below the Financial District on Dec. 11, 2015.
Her trial will begin Friday before a judge with no jury, with the permission of the Attorney General as is required in murder cases. The defence is expected to argue that she is not criminally responsible by reason of mental disorder, a finding that would mean Bisesar would be sent to a psychiatric hospital rather than acquitted or found guilty and sentenced to prison.
Junor’s family filled several benches in the courtroom for the hearing. Outside court, Junor’s older brother Richard said the family is relieved that the case is moving forward. “She is an individual, right, she is a person too,” he said of Bisesar.
When asked about how the family felt after the hearing he said “you can be angry, but at the end of the day it’s not going bring my sister back.”
The test for fitness to stand trial is a low bar – the accused must know the “nature and object” of the proceeding, understand the possible consequences of the proceeding and be able to communicate with her lawyer.
Superior Court Justice John McMahon told the jury some questions they might consider are:
Does she know what she is on trial for? Does she know what the trial is? Does she know what she is charged with? Does she know what will happen if she is found guilty or not guilty? Can she understand the evidence? Can she instruct counsel in a way that allows her to make full and fair defence? Is she able to understand the advice of her counsel and reach a decision on whether or not she should or not give evidence?
Bisesar’s nearly three year journey through the court system has been convoluted. She was initially found fit to stand trial very shortly after she was charged, despite her continued and repeated expressions of conspiratorial schemes including that an implant in her body was controlling her actions.
Her lawyer Robert Karrass told reporters that Bisesar has never before been adequately treated for her mental health disorder.
Bisesar was found unfit to stand trial in a previous fitness hearing in December 2017 where Dr. Swayze testified she had schizophrenia and was unable to mount a defence as a result of being unable to communicate with counsel. A treatment order was imposed and she was sent to CAMH where she remains in a secure forensic unit.
The Ontario Review Board found her fit to stand trial in July and ordered that she be sent back to court — legally, only a jury could find her fit in order for the case to proceed.
With files from Star Staff
Alyshah Hasham is a Toronto-based reporter covering crime and court. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter: @alysanmati