Kelowna man who killed his mother with hammer on trial

"(Harry) Grossmith has lost his wife and as you can see, he's probably going to lose his son."

The future of a Kelowna man who fatally attacked his mother with a hammer two years ago will soon be decided upon in an area courtroom, but legal resolution is unlikely to console any of those closest to the violent crime.

Conor Frederick Grossmith, 26, has bipolar disorder and lived with his parents until Sept. 13, 2012, when he entered his mother’s room as she lay in her bed and, with a hammer, repeatedly struck her in the head.

Kathleen Gilchirst, 57, died just over a week later as a result of her injuries, having never gained consciousness after the attack. On that day, the son who she and her husband shared a “close relationship with,” was charged with second degree murder.

“It’s always a sad situation when family members caring for people with mental illness are the ones hurt,” said Crown counsel Frank Dubenski, outside Kelowna courthouse Monday, where the second degree murder trial will be held for the next five days.

“(Harry) Grossmith has lost his wife and as you can see, he’s probably going to lose his son.”

While Grossmith has admitted he killed his mother, the question before the courts is whether Grossmith committed the crime because he was in a state of psychosis related to a bipolar disorder, or if he was just drunkenly lashing out.

Should his mental illness be considered the motivation, and Grossmith is deemed legally insane, he would be sentenced to spend time in a forensic psychiatric hospital. The duration of that stay would be up to a third-party panel.

If the trial judge decides self-induced intoxication was the motivator for the crime then Grossmith, whose blood alcohol level was four-to-five times the legal limit at the time of the attack, would be shifted into B.C.’s prison system.

Defence lawyer Joe Gordon said that, if she were here today, Gilchrist would have wanted her son to be sent to a psychiatric hospital and that the two had a very close relationship.

“(Harry Grossmith) would acknowledge that his son Conor loved his mother,” he said. “If Kathleen were here today she would probably want to see found (not criminally responsible due to a mental disorder.)”

The matter is scheduled to take five days of court time, and will rely heavily on psychiatric assessments.

Defence lawyers are presenting two psychiatric reports and Crown counsel has one.

Their testimony will be presented throughout the week.

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