Suspect back in jail until fitness for trial studied
Moments before the court returned him to jail for four more days, Elliot Benge’s older sister urged the 22-year-old murder suspect to remain strong.
“This too shall pass,” Mireille Benge told her brother during his appearance in Mental Health Court at the downtown courthouse yesterday afternoon. “Mom loves you and I love you.”
Mireille Benge clasped her hands together in prayer and made the sign of the cross. Her brother, dressed in a creased white T-shirt, mirrored her actions before giving a brief thumbs up and covering his face with one hand.
A court-appointed psychiatrist will assess on Friday whether Benge is fit to stand trial in the second-degree murder of his father, Pierre Benge.
The 59-year-old husband and father of four was found without vital signs at 86 Somero Private on Jan. 21 and was pronounced dead at hospital. Police took Benge into custody afterwards and soon charged him in Ottawa’s first homicide of 2008.
Benge’s defence team asked Justice Hugh Fraser to adjourn until Friday, pending a doctor’s review. Defence attorney Doug Baum said the defence team is also waiting to retain a psychiatrist privately to assess Benge, who was previously diagnosed as bipolar.
“It has to be determined if he’s fit to stand trial,” Baum told reporters outside the courtroom.
A court appointed doctor will meet with Benge at the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre on Friday, said defence attorney Felix Weekes. If the court-appointed doctor finds Benge unfit to stand trial, he will be taken to Royal Ottawa Hospital for further assessment.
If he’s found fit to stand trial, Benge will remain in custody until a private psychiatrist conducts a separate assessment.