“Integration within family and culture must be constant and can’t be a response to an illness. Their beliefs are not indulged or challenged – they are just part of the landscape (in other cultures.) They receive affection; have duties, and a purpose,” said Lohrasbe.
Testimony indicates murder was to "stop the anti-Christ"
The sacrifice of 12-year-old John Fulton as a way to stop the anti-Christ didn’t work, according to Kimberly Noyes, accused of the second degree murder of Fulton in Grand Forks in August of 2009.
For the first time in a trial that has lasted two weeks so far, the court heard the full details of the actual killing as told to Dr. Shabehram Lohrasbe, an expert in forensic psychiatry by Noyes in two interviews he conducted in November 2009 and January 2010. Testimony over the last two days revealed that Noyes believed that Fulton was connected to the anti-Christ and someone told her he had to die. When that failed, Noyes started to think that she needed to sacrifice one of her children, said Lohrasbe.
Just before Lohrasbe took the stand, Noyes’ eldest daughter, Lauren Graham, appeared by video conference from Texas on behalf of the defense to describe what she saw as the deterioration of her mother’s mental health over the five years prior to the tragedy.
Graham, who left home to live with relatives when she was 15, is now 23-years-old, married with one child of her own. Her first visit with her mother after moving away was shortly after the birth of Noyes’ third child, Liam. Graham described her mother during that visit as being hyper and excited, not sleeping, and suddenly interested in Christian religion.
“She told me she experienced God in the shower, ‘that he had rained on me,’” said Graham. Graham said that Noyes was constantly going to church and was developing plans to get rid of her second husband, Stacey Brunette, who she claimed was the devil.
Graham said the following years were marked by a pattern of highs and lows that she experienced with her mother. Between 2005 and 2009 they had regular summer and sometimes Christmas visits, and telephone contact nearly daily.
Graham said that she was also communicating with Noyes’ sisters Laurie and Barb, as well as community care workers over the three years leading up to the killing. Some of the delusions that Noyes talked about over the years Graham described as including a belief that Noyes’ son Liam was the chosen one, and that her daughter Gabrielle had to be sacrificed to be able to come back as an angel. Graham also said Noyes was often focussed on someone near to her being a devil, the anti-Christ or Satan.
During Graham’s last visit in July of 2009 she said her mother’s depression was the worst she had ever seen. “She wasn’t there. She was not responsive. It was beyond depression – she was gone.”
Graham said she raised her concerns with Noyes’ community mental health worker because she was afraid that Noyes was slowly killing herself – losing weight, not taking her medications, and looking really sick. Noyes was not admitted to the local Boundary Hospital at the time because she was not taking her medication, said Graham, although the community worker agreed to visit daily to assist her with her medication.
Lohrasbe was brought in to evaluate Noyes’ mental state at the time of the killing by the Crown interviewing her first in November 2009 and then again in January 2010. He has provided forensic psychiatric assessments in over 6,000 cases. His task, he said, is to use different sources to establish a person’s background and then to interview the person to establish their mental state. Lohrasbe said he used police records and video interviews, personal and mental health background information, interviews with family and the actual interviews with Noyes totaling six-and-a-half hours to form his conclusions.
Lohrasbe described Noyes’ story from the loss of her parents in adolescence, to her struggles as a single mother to gain her education and support her family, and her unhappy second marriage in which substance abuse was a factor.
“I do not believe substance abuse played a major role in what happened…she quit both alcohol and marijuana before the offence,” said Lohrasbe.
Lohrasbe said that, in his interviews with Noyes, she was able to describe the events that occurred with Fulton, and could describe her preoccupation with the devil and the anti-Christ.
“She had thought and thought about sacrificing Gabrielle,” he said. “I think she was desperately trying to explain herself (in the interviews)… but it became apparent that it was all very raw and confusing.”
Noyes was able to describe the physical actions that happened between herself and Fulton on Aug. 15, 2009, to Lohrasbe. He said that she lured Fulton into her house on a premise that she had something to give him from her son Liam, but locked the door once he was inside. Lohrasbe said she told Fulton that, “someone told me to kill you,” and that they talked. Noyes told Lohrasbe that John attempted to leave but that she grabbed the knife and they fought over it before she actually stabbed him. Lohrasbe said he took three accounts of the event from Noyes and that there were consistencies in her story.
Lohrasbe explained to the court that Noyes had a build-up of symptoms prior to the event that she described as symbols indicating that the Fulton family was in some way linked to the anti-Christ. He said that it was a lengthy process started weeks earlier. Lohrasbe described Noyes as profoundly remorseful during his interviews with her and that her mood was “extremely distraught and agitated…very tearful and spoke of him (Fulton) as a poor innocent boy.”
Lohrasbe was clear in describing the conclusions he reached regarding Noyes’ mental state.
“You don’t have to spend more than five minutes with her to know she is mentally ill, even once stabilized,” he said.
Lohrasbe confirmed that Noyes has bi-polar one disorder and that the medication she was receiving was more effective in containing the manic phases of her disorder that in treating the depression. He said that she was in a psychotic state at the time of the killing,
“I don’t think she was able to attend to the wrongfulness of her actions. I don’t think she was capable of acting rational at the time.”
Lohrasbe said that the information he received from family and friends indicated that when Noyes is not ill she is a kind, gentle, caring person who is in clear contrast from their description of her when she is ill.
When asked by Crown Counsel Philip Seagram to give an opinion, Lohrasbe provided his theory that it is “highly likely that the killing of John Fulton is in some way a substitute for killing her own child.” Lohrasbe expanded on his theory, saying that if Noyes’ children hadn’t been taken from her earlier in the year that it might have been one or both of her children who died. Her delusion that the sacrifice of Fulton would lead to a great event did not materialize, he explained, and she told him she had thoughts that she may have sacrificed the wrong person and may even need to sacrifice her own child.
Lohrasbe said that consequences of the isolation of mentally ill persons are at their worst in North America because of the isolated nature of the culture. He said that if a person has family and is integrated into their lives that it gives meaning and purpose for someone who may feel their lives have no meaning.
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