The courtroom was packed for a preliminary inquiry into the murder of five young people at a get-together last spring, who were celebrating the end of the university school year.
Lawrence Hong, Kaiti Perras, Jordan Segura, Joshua Hunter and Zachariah Rathwell were killed at a Brentwood home on April 14, 2014.
Matthew de Grood is charged with five counts of first-degree murder.
Members of the victim’s family and de Grood’s family filled the courtroom on the first day of the preliminary inquiry, which began March 2. Crown prosecutor, Neil Wiberg, says he expects to call 13 witnesses.
Details of the week-long court hearing cannot be published prior to a trial, but members of the murder victim’s family were present to hear testimony from witnesses in the case.
Emotions were high in the courtroom, with people crying in their seats, while de Grood sat in the dock listening intently and occasionally drinking from a glass of water.
Lawrence Hong’s parents, who immigrated to Canada from the Philippines in the 90s, were in the courtroom with their son, Miles, to hear the disturbing details.
The Hongs have not commented on the case. The victim’s families have been commenting jointly and most recently sent out a letter asking for privacy.
Hong was only weeks away from graduating university with a degree in urban studies when he was killed.
Crown prosecutor Neil Wiberg says the proceedings are hard on the family.
“They are very upset, obviously,” he says. “Five outstanding young people were murdered and I’m sure this brings back horrible memories.”
de Grood’s lawyer, Allan Faye, says his client is also anxious about the proceedings.
“There are lots of family members of friends for both the victims and my client and everybody is going to be reliving some very, very traumatic events,” Faye says.
de Grood underwent a 30-day psychological evaluation and has been receiving treatment since his arrest, Faye says.
“He is very anxious about this,” Faye says. “Reliving this event obviously is very, very difficult for him and he, like anyone in this situation, wants to move forward and try to bring this matter to a close.”
de Grood is not getting any preferential treatment because his father is a senior police officer, Faye adds.
“He’s being treated like another individual charged with these types of offences,” Faye says. “His father’s status has not affected that whatsoever. Having said that, obviously there are some people that have some concerns about that. There might be some concerns about him that while he is in custody that he is a police officer’s son. I have not heard about anything untoward happening. That is always a concern.”
Wiberg was brought in from Edmonton to handle the Crown’s case to prevent any conflict with local Crown prosecutors who may have worked with de Grood’s father.
At the end of the preliminary inquiry the judge will determine if de Grood will stand trial. A trial would not be set until a later date.