Ottawa

Killer to remain in custody for a year, tribunal rules

Adam Rossi will not be allowed to live in transitional housing in the community for the next year after he was found not criminally responsible for killing a woman and interfering with her remains in 2022, the tribunal now overseeing him has ruled.

Man found not criminally responsible will be held, monitored and treated at The Royal in Ottawa

A close-up headshot of a man.
Adam Rossi in an undated Facebook photo. He was charged with second-degree murder and interfering with human remains after the body of Sommer Boudreau was found in his rented home in Deep River, Ont., in 2022. This past December, he was found not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder. (Facebook)

Adam Rossi will not be allowed to live in transitional housing in the community for the next year after he was found not criminally responsible for killing a woman and interfering with her remains in 2022, the tribunal now overseeing him has ruled.

The 42-year-old was ordered to be held and rehabilitated in the secure forensic assessment unit of the Royal Ottawa Mental Heath Centre.

He is barred from having weapons, using alcohol, cannabis or any non-medical drugs, and from contacting the family of Sommer Boudreau, the 39-year-old mother of three he killed.

Hospital staff can permit Rossi to leave for health, legal or compassionate purposes after notifying police, and for hospital and grounds privileges, as long as he is escorted by staff.

A close-up of a woman wearing a baseball cap.
An undated photo of Sommer Boudreau, who was killed when Rossi struck her repeatedly in the head with a heavy bowl. At the time, Rossi was under the delusion that she had been sent to kill him. (Facebook)

Couldn't understand what he did was wrong

The disposition was issued March 26 by the Ontario Review Board, the independent tribunal that takes over from the courts when someone is found not responsible for their crimes due to mental illness.

In Rossi's case, he was found to have been in the grip of mania and paranoid delusions stemming from his bipolar one disorder when he killed Boudreau at the duplex he was renting in Deep River, Ont., the night of Dec. 9, 2022. They had met at a bar that night, and he believed she was sent to kill him.

He then cut off one of her hands, staged the scene to look like it was part of a horror film franchise and ended up calling police from a Shoppers Drug Mart two days later.

The scene at the duplex was so disturbing that one of the police officers who showed up there suffered PTSD and hadn't been able to return to work as of this past December, when Rossi's NCR hearing was held at the Superior Court of Justice in Pembroke, Ont.

Hospital, defence wanted transitional housing

At Rossi's first appearance before the Ontario Review Board on March 21, all the parties agreed that Rossi continues to pose a danger to the public and needs to be detained. But there was some debate about what form that should take.

Wood and Rossi's defence lawyer Marni Munsterman wanted Rossi to be kept at The Royal, but with the possibility of moving him into a supportive housing program to transition to independent living. That would have included at least eight hours of daily supervision, and would only have been allowed if he met all the criteria and hospital staff thought he was ready.

But the chair of the hearing, lawyer Joel Goldenberg, asked why the board would allow Rossi into the public in the next year when it has to take public safety into account first.

A psychiatrist on the board, Dr. Reghuvaran Kunjukrishnan, noted Rossi has been treated in hospital over and over for the past decade, only to stop taking medication soon after he's released. Kunjukrishnan also questioned why Rossi is objecting to the long-acting injectable antipsychotic drugs that the hospital prefers.

In the end, the board sided with the assistant Crown, who disagreed that Rossi should be allowed into transitional housing within the year.

The written reasons for the review board's decision are expected to be released in the coming weeks.

A city's mental health hospital.
As of last week, 15 inmates at Ottawa's jail who have been deemed not criminally responsible for their crimes were waiting for beds at The Royal. Rossi was seventh on that list. (Giacomo Panico/CBC)

Rossi remains in jail due to bed shortage

Rossi's first appearance before the Ontario Review Board was held March 21 in a forensic unit boardroom at The Royal, where he was escorted by two corrections officers and accompanied by his mother.

Wearing an orange jumpsuit, with his dark hair cut close to his scalp and his wrists and ankles in shackles, Rossi moved little and spoke only to say yes when asked if he understood what was being said.

He was supposed to have been at The Royal undergoing in-depth monitoring and treatment already, but the hospital's forensic assessment unit doesn't have enough beds to meet demand.

Last week, Rossi was seventh on a waiting list of 15 inmates at Ottawa's jail who are deemed not criminally responsible and need care, the board heard. It could be several more months before he's transferred.

While Rossi waits, he's being held in protective custody — specifically, a back room area in the jail's maximum security unit — because people who commit crimes against women can be targets of violence by other inmates.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kristy Nease

Reporter

CBC Ottawa multi-platform reporter Kristy Nease has covered news in the capital for 15 years, and previously worked at the Ottawa Citizen. She has handled topics including intimate partner violence, climate and health care, and is currently focused on justice issues and the courts. Get in touch: kristy.nease@cbc.ca, or 613-288-6435.