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Second psychiatric test ordered for Sooke man accused of murder

Crown and defence attorneys have agreed to seek a second opinion after a Sooke man was found “marginally fit” to stand trial for murder.

Alex Conte, 21, is charged with second degree murder in the death of this mother Sarah Nickerson, who as found deceased the afternoon of Jan. 8 in her mobile home on Otter Point Road.

Sooke RCMP officers responded to a 9-1-1 call for help that came from a mobile home in the Park Village. Conte was arrested at the scene.

Conte appeared in Western Communities Courthouse via video from the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital in Port Coquitlam on Thursday, where he is being held. Unshaven with close cropped dark hair, he sat quietly and showed little emotion or reaction during proceedings.

Crown prosecutor Christine Lowe told the court a psychiatric assessment found Conte fit to stand trial, although “marginally fit.”

Lowe agreed with defense attorney Bill Heflin a second psychiatric assessment is needed to determine if Conte will stand trial for murder. If found to be suffering from a mental disorder at the time he was arrested, he can't be held criminally responsible for the alleged offense.

“In my experience you are either fit, or it’s don’t call us, we’ll call you,” Heflin said. “This is a hybrid creature that strongly suggests further inquiry is warranted.”

Heflin and Lowe submitted an agreed statement of facts and the psychiatric report to Judge Evan Blake, which are under a publication ban. Blake ordered Conte undergo a second assessment within the next 30 days.

Conte had a troubled past before being arrested for his mother’s alleged murder. Last year he was found guilty on three counts of assault. He is currently charged with assault, uttering threats and break and enter from an incident on May 20, 2011.

Conte is scheduled to appear at Western Communities Courthouse again via video on March 22, 2 p.m.

editor@goldstreamgazette.com

 

 

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