In a decisive win for the defence, on April 24, 2012 Jennifer Penman succeeded in having her client S. declared NCR (‘not criminally responsible’) in a first-degree murder trial in Brampton Superior Court.
The facts of the case were not disputed: in June 2009 S. killed his landlord, stabbing him multiple times for no apparent reason. The issue at trial was whether S., who had a history of serious mental illness, was able to perceive at the time of the murder that the act of killing was morally wrong.
Although two well-regarded psychiatrists testified that S. was not criminally responsible the killing, the Crown vehemently contested their findings in court. In spite of his own expert witness’s opinion to the contrary, the Crown contended that S. could in fact distinguish right from wrong. Ms. Penman fought for the experts’ opinions to be recognized, and presented further witnesses with first-hand knowledge of S’s mental illness.
The judge agreed with the defence and found S. not criminally responsible for first-degree murder.