Stabbing prompted by delusions of al-Qaeda link
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A Winnipeg man diagnosed with schizophrenia has been found not criminally responsible for trying to kill his former apartment caretaker who he believed was an al-Qaeda terrorist.
Alexander Rychter, 25, pleaded not guilty Wednesday to attempted murder by reason of mental disorder for an unprovoked attack that sent his victim to hospital suffering a deep stab wound to his neck.
Rychter was living in the same McPhillips Street apartment complex as the victim when, in November 2018, Rychter was forced to move out due to new ownership, Crown attorney Shannon Benevides told Queen’s Bench Justice Gerald Chartier, reading from an agreed statement of facts.
The victim, the building’s caretaker, helped Rychter move and “believed the two of them were on good terms,” Benevides said.
But when Rychter later returned to the apartment building, his behaviour changed and he directed insulting comments toward the victim, Benevides said. During subsequent visits to the building, Rychter stole a can of gasoline from the man, smashed a front door window, slashed his car tires, and broke into the caretaker’s apartment, which was unoccupied at the time.
Then, on March 18, 2019, Rychter returned to the building, this time armed with a knife, “intending to kill (the victim),” Benevides said.
Rychter walked into the man’s unlocked apartment as he was cooking dinner and was initially forced back into the hallway before Rychter kicked down the door and stabbed the man in the throat.
The man was rushed to hospital suffering massive blood loss and underwent emergency surgery.
“His injuries have not yet healed,” Benevides said. “His breathing and vocal chords remain damaged.”
Following his arrest, Rychter underwent a forensic examination and was diagnosed with schizophrenia.
“The treating psychiatric team believes that Rychter has formed a delusional belief system specifically related to (the victim),” including delusions that the two men communicated with each other telepathically and that the victim was a member of the terrorist group al-Qaeda, the radical Sunni Muslim organization dedicated to the elimination of a Western presence in Arab countries, Benevides said.
“Despite being medicated and removed from illicit drugs, Rychter continues to hold a delusional belief system directed at (the victim),” she said.
Rychter remains in custody. His case will now go before the Criminal Code Review Board, which will hold a hearing within the next 45 days to decide whether he should be transferred to a secure medical facility or can be safely transitioned to the community.
Source: Winnipeg Free Press