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Severn man guilty of random, senseless murder deemed not criminally responsible

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A Barrie judge who found Justice Snache guilty of murder has ruled he is not criminally responsible for the 2020 "random and senseless" stabbing death of a stranger left to die in the middle of an Orillia road.

Justice Cary Boswell made the ruling following a psychiatrist's testimony that Snache was dealing with schizophrenia, psychosis, and hearing voices in his head at the time of the murder.

Snache was 19 in November 2020 when he stabbed Derek Simmerson, who was walking home along Coldwater Road.

The 34-year-old was found with critical injuries and died in the hospital.

"Ultimately, he [Derek] didn't deserve any of this," said Simmerson's brother Devin. "His only crime was walking down the street."

The court heard that in the year leading up to the stabbing, Snache visited several hospitals seeking help but was released each time.

Justice Boswell agreed with the defence and Crown that Snache was battling a fluctuating and deteriorating delusional state with very few places to turn. "Mr. Snache needed help. He knew it. He sought it, but he did not get it," the judge noted.

"The medical people failed him, his parents failed him, where were they when he needed help? My son had to pay the price," said Derek Simmerson's mother, Lynda Malec.

Justice Boswell concluded Snache's mental disorder at the time of the fatal stabbing rendered him incapable of appreciating the nature and quality of his actions. The judge said his mental state made Snache unable to understand the wrongfulness of the voices in his head that told him to kill or be killed.

"Someone needed help. At least he's getting it, but unfortunately, it was at my son's expense," Malec added.

"This case is a sad example of what happens when our mental health system fails to follow up with people who are seeking mental health assistance, which Mr. Snache did over and over again," said Snache's defence lawyer Jay Herbert.

Snache, who has been in police custody since his arrest, will await a review of his case at the Waypoint Centre for Mental Healthcare.

The 22-year-old's fate, which includes whether he will ever be released into the community, is now in the hands of the Ontario Review Board.

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