Calgary

Woman accused of trying to kill husband suffering dementia and is not fit to stand trial

A 73-year-old woman charged with attempted murder has been found unfit to stand trial because she suffers from dementia.

Rhonda Campbell, 73, sent to psychiatry centre as lawyers determine next steps

Gold doors and a glass building.
A 73-year-old woman is charged with attempted murder but will not go on trial because she suffers from dementia and doesn't understand what is happening in court. (David Bell/CBC)

A 73-year-old woman charged with attempted murder has been found unfit to stand trial because she suffers from dementia.

Rhonda Campbell was arrested in January after Cochrane RCMP were called to the Springbank home she shares with her husband. 

The husband was found with serious injuries to his neck and required surgery.

On Thursday, Justice Bruce Fraser heard that following a weeks-long assessment, forensic psychiatrist Dr. David Tano has found that Campbell doesn't fulfil the medical criteria to stand trial. 

Such a finding means the accused does not understand what is going on in court and is unable to instruct their lawyer. 

Campbell appeared in court Thursday in a sweatsuit with shackles on her ankles. She blew kisses to family members who were in court to offer their support.

'Tragic' situation

While the parties, including defence lawyer Adriano Iovinelli and prosecutor Vince Pingitore, determine next steps, Fraser agreed to send Campbell back to the Southern Alberta Forensic Psychiatry Centre in order to avoid housing her in the Calgary Remand Centre. 

"That is the most appropriate place for her — Corrections agrees, the doctor agrees, Mr. Pingitore agrees," said Iovinelli. 

"We do not want Ms. Campbell to be in custody … this is a very unique set of circumstances."

On a previous court date, Iovinelli called the situation "tragic."

The case is back in court in April to determine how Campbell will be processed and ultimately released. 

Campbell could be dealt with under Alberta's Mental Health Act or via the Criminal Code with a finding of not criminally responsible (NCR).

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Meghan Grant

CBC Calgary crime reporter

Meghan Grant is a justice affairs reporter. She has been covering courts, crime and stories of police accountability in southern Alberta for more than a decade. Send Meghan a story tip at meghan.grant@cbc.ca or follow her on Twitter.