Toronto financial district stabbing suspect found unfit to stand trial after describing the voices in her head

When she was finished speaking Monday, Bisesar smiled and thanked the judge. She left the witness box clutching a sheaf of loose to her chest; a boxy tan jacket swallowed her skeletal frame. As she back to the prisoner’s booth, the smile stayed painted on her lips. She gazed glassily into the gallery as if expecting to see a familiar face. When she sat, she pushed the back into a huge, clear sack then sipped from a plastic water glass. Her hand, the long nails visible from three rows back, quivered and shook.

For several hours in court this week, Bisesar, who stands accused of first-degree murder, unspooled the contents of a gravely ill mind. She told the court, in winding rambles, about an unknown entity that speaks to her and sometimes controls her actions. “It’s a real time, progressive dialogue and conversation,” she said. “Whoever it is will tell me something, I’ll tell them to go away.” The voice has made her hit herself, she said. It made her smash a mirror. It spoke to her even in court. At one point, just before pulling on the jacket, she asked the judge to repeat something. “I have somebody communicating with me,” she said. “I have to listen to both of you at the same time.”

Bisesar, a forensic psychiatrist testified Monday, is deeply . She suffers from acute schizophrenia, is actively delusional and is unable to properly participate in her own . “This is a very unwell woman, unfortunately,” said Dr. Ian Swayze, from Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. On Tuesday, an Ontario Superior Court jury agreed. After deliberating for less than an hour, the jurors her unfit to stand trial.

It was a remarkably quick . Court broke at 11:30; the jury didn’t make it to lunch. Still, few in court surprised, either by the speed, or the result. The Crown brought the motion to have Bisesar declared unfit. The defence did not oppose. Only Bisesar herself to disagree. “I don’t want you to think I’m cuckoo,” she told the jury. She’s not ill, she insisted. She’s being controlled, likely by a mechanism implanted in her skin.

Bisesar, a former financial analyst, was arrested in December 2015 and charged with the murder of Rosemarie Junor. The 28-year-old newlywed was stabbed to death in a drug store in Toronto’s labyrinthine PATH system, a shopping complex underneath the financial district, two years ago this month.

More than a dozen members of Junor’s family sat in court Monday. They declined to speak to the media afterward. But at one point, a man among them yelled at Bisesar: “Can you just shut up now?” He then walked out in apparent disgust.

Bisesar had been scheduled to go to trial in January. Instead, she’ll now be forcibly treated with anti-psychotic medication for 60 days. A new jury will then be asked to judge her fitness again early next year. Should she then be declared fit, she’ll go to trial next October.

Robert Karrass, Bisesar’s lawyer, was asked after the hearing why it took so long to get to this point. Bisesar, a deeply ill woman, has spent the last two years in jail. She has visibly deteriorated in that time. In court on Monday, she told the jury she hadn’t washed in weeks. Her hair — black streaked through now with grey — was puffed out in messy tangles.

“The reason I’m such a mess today,” she told the jury, “is because there’s on my face.” She pointed to a mass discolouration on her cheeks and forehead. She said someone had implanted a hard, honeycombed structure beneath her skin. It smelled, she said, of chicken then later fish and finally of “men’s sperm.”

Rohinie Bisesar’s “wanted” image shared by Toronto police.

Karrass only took over Bisesar’s case in June. He said it was obvious to him right away that she could not give him meaningful instructions. He approached Crown attorney Beverley Richards and she agreed to bring forward a motion on fitness. For Karrass, it was a tricky ethical line. He has a duty as an officer of the court, but he also has to serve his client, and his client maintains, to this day, that she is sane.

Should she eventually go to trial, Bisesar’s defence will likely argue that she is not criminally responsible for the killing. To prove that, they would have to convince a jury that Bisesar was deeply mentally ill at the time of the attack. (Fitness, on the other hand, deals with one’s mental state at the time of trial.)

For the moment, Bisesar isn’t even sure there was a crime at all. While she understands that she has been charged with murder, Swayze said, she doesn’t always accept that anyone was actually killed.

After the verdict and the treatment order, Bisesar spoke one more time. She asked the judge to have her physically examined as well. “There’s a criminal component to what’s going on with my face,” she said. She wanted samples taken and tested. There was evidence there, she said, of a grievous crime.

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About Richard Warnica