Families at de Grood trial: 'All we ask is that you remember how they lived'

Families give emotional statement ahead of trial in Calgary's worst mass murder

Clockwise from top left: Zackariah Rathwell, Kaitlin Perras, Lawrence Hong, Joshua Hunter and ​Jordan Segura. (Photo credit: Facebook, Aran Wilkinson-Blanc)

Stabbing victims, clockwise from top left: Zackariah Rathwell, Kaitlin Perras, Lawrence Hong, Joshua Hunter and ​Jordan Segura. (Photo credit: Facebook, Aran Wilkinson-Blanc)

CALGARY — The families of five young people stabbed to death at a house party are urging people to remember their loved ones as the trial for their accused killer gets underway in Calgary.

Greg Perras, father of Kaitlin Perras, fought back tears as he read a statement on behalf of the families outside the courthouse.

“The priority for us during this trial is to ensure that our loved ones will be given the full and just attention that they deserve,” Perras read. “All we ask is that you remember how they lived — with purpose, with life, with goodness and love for their friends and family.

“Their deaths in this tragedy do not define them.”

Matthew de Grood, 24, faces five counts of first-degree murder in what police have said is Calgary’s worst mass killing.

The stabbings happened at a house party being held to mark the end of the school year in April 2014.

Police have not said what they believe may have motivated the attack, but have revealed de Grood was invited to the party and mingled with guests.

Perras, who was 23, was killed along with Lawrence Hong, 27; Josh Hunter, 23; Zackariah Rathwell, 21; and Jordan Segura, 22.

Hunter, Hong and Segura all attended the University of Calgary. Perras studied at Mount Royal University and Rathwell was a student at the Alberta College of Art and Design.

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Perras said people can’t understand what the families have been through unless they’ve experienced similar loss.

“The last two years have been extremely difficult, incredibly long and anxiety-ridden for us as parents, as family members, as friends, and particularly for our children’s friends — many of whom lost five friends that evening.”

He said the grieving will never end.

“There’s no such thing as a new normal that some people talk about. There is only existing, surviving and a series of bitter-sweet events, going forward in our families lives such as graduations, weddings and grandchildren.

“These milestones will be happy and they will be sad.”

The trial is being heard by an out-of-town judge at the request of both the prosecution and defence, because de Grood’s father is a high-ranking city police officer and could be called to testify.

A psychiatric review determined de Grood was fit to stand trial, because he understands the charges against him and is able to communicate with his lawyer.

He has been undergoing treatment at the Southern Alberta Forensic Psychiatry Centre since his arrest.

Allan Fay, who represents de Grood, hasn’t ruled out a defence of not criminally responsible by reason of a mental disorder.

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