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Forensic psychiatrist testifies at trial for Toronto man accused of murdering his mother – Toronto |



Warning: This story contains graphic and disturbing descriptions. Discretion is strongly advised. 

Dr. Mitesh Patel says he provided two mental health assessments of Dallas Ly, the Toronto man on trial for the murder of his mother, in March 2022 and said he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and major depressive disorder when he killed her.

The Crown previously told the jury in the second-degree murder trial that it is an admitted fact that Dallas stabbed his mother, Tien Ly, a nail salon owner, in March 2022 and caused her death. Dallas has pleaded not guilty.

As a qualified expert in adolescent forensic psychiatry — adolescents being defined as anyone under the age of 24 — Patel testified Monday that he interviewed Dallas twice in November 2023 and further met with him in February 2024. The reports, he explained, are meant to give an unbiased opinion regarding the then-21-year-old’s state of mind on March 27, 2022, and are to be used for legal purposes.

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Patel said he relied on Dallas’s self-reporting, police interviews and records and paramedics reports.

“Dallas made it clear he didn’t want communication with any family members as he did not maintain contact with them,” he explained, saying that “a lot of the abuse happened behind closed doors and that other family members were not involved, at least from his self-report.”

Dallas previously testified that his mother was abusive toward him.

There were no reports made to the Children’s Aid Society nor police reports.

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“He didn’t seem to feign or malinger, he didn’t seem to be hiding things and at times, appeared distressed by the subject matters discussed,” Patel said.

The jury has heard that on the evening of March 27, 2022, Dallas told Tien that he was moving out and going to live with his aunt. Dallas testified last week that Tien became enraged and yelled in Vietnamese, “She has no right to let you move in with her. She owes me everything. If she does, I will hurt her.” Dallas said his mother then threatened him, saying, “Come here right now. If you don’t come, I’m going to beat you to death.”

It’s then Dallas testified the two began to fight. She punched him in his face before Dallas said he pulled out a knife and began swinging, striking his mother’s neck.

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“It was a bit of a blur. I saw red everywhere, I don’t know how many times I stabbed her,” he said.

At first, Dallas told the jury he did not believe it was real but then realized what he had done, panicked and cut off his mother’s head before attempting to dispose of his mother’s body.

Patel testified Monday that there was clear evidence that Dallas had faced a significant and long-standing history of severe childhood abuse and neglect, which continued into his teenage years. The forensic psychiatrist said Dallas had symptoms like nightmares and flashbacks consistent with a diagnosis of PTSD. He also opined that the symptoms could be consistent with someone who suffered from “battered child syndrome.”

Patel also diagnosed Dallas with major depressive disorder associated with challenges due to his academic performance, which affected his relationship with his mother.

“The extent of violent behaviour associated with the homicide itself, it went above and beyond self-defence and protecting another,” Patel said.

When defence lawyer Marco Sciarra asked if a person who has PTSD has a different perception of a dangerous circumstance, Patel replied: “It can be taken into consideration in relation to culpability, particularly given the extent of the violent behaviour.”

Sciarra then asked if Patel recognized the woman in all black in the front row of the courtroom. Patel said he recognized her as Alina Iosif, a former colleague from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH).

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Sciarra explained that she provided a forensic psychiatric report of Dallas on May 10 for the Crown, after sitting in and listening to Dallas testify in court and reviewing Patel’s reports. Sciarra told the court that in her report, Iosif wrote: “I concur that Mr. Ly was subject to severe childhood abuse … however the issue of whether he suffered PTSD prior to the index offence remains unclear to me.”

Sciarra asked Patel whether he could form an opinion about someone’s mental health by watching someone testify in court.

“I would not do that. There would be major challenges.”

Patel said he didn’t believe one could give an informed opinion pertaining to a mental health diagnosis without having interviewed the patient himself.

In his opening address, Sciarra told the jury that “this isn’t a trial about what happened.”

“Mr. Ly admits that he caused his own mother’s death. This is a trial about whether what happened is murder.”

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