"It wasn't until 3 a.m., that he strangled his boy to death. Carmichael was sad. But he didn't cry because he knew he had done the right thing."
|Over the Edge|
|Compassionate homicide' is a crime like no other|
|Accused dad seeks speedy murder trial David Carmichael - mercy killing? update on when Carmichael's trial date is to be set|
Updated Sat. Apr. 21 2007 6:59 PM ET
Katherine Janson, W-FIVE
It was the picture of the perfect Toronto family--David Carmichael, a nationally-known fitness guru, his two children and wife, Elizabeth.
"We had a great life," says David. But in 2003, with mounting financial pressures and increasing work demands, David began to change in ways that alarmed his mother, Doreen.
"He lost weight very quickly--and his colour changed. It was not his normal colouring. It was more gray... and it wasn't the way it should have been," she says.
David went to his family doctor, explained his symptoms and was told he was in a major depression. His doctor prescribed a daily dose of 40 mgs of Paxil, one in a group of antidepressants called SSRIs, or Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors.
After eight months, David was feeling himself again, and weaned himself off the drug.
But a year later, in the summer of 2004, depression returned with a vengeance.
"It was like a freight train. You know, the symptoms just suddenly reappeared and within a matter of days I knew I was in trouble."
Instead of going back to his doctor, David started himself back on 40 mgs of Paxil.
What David didn't know was that new studies were raising concerns about the side-effects of SSRIs, and that by mid-2004, Health Canada was advising Canadians of stronger warnings for SSRIs and other newer anti-depressants. These new warnings indicated that patients taking these drugs may experience behavioural or emotional changes that could increase their risk of harming themselves, or others.
"I started to have suicidal thoughts after I put myself back on Paxil," he explains.
The drug wasn't working for him the way it did the first time, and he'd read in a book that a dosage up to 60 mgs was safe, so he upped his own dose.
"I became delusional, I started thinking that my son was in a living hell," says David.
Ian Carmichael, then 11, did have some minor learning disabilities, but he also had a winning personality and a passion for BMX biking that David encouraged. He had had a few epileptic seizures, but in David's mind, the epilepsy became permanent damage. David fell under the delusion that Ian was going to become violent and hurt other children.
What David didn't know was that he was falling into a deep state of psychosis.
"When you're in that state, you don't realize that your mind is thinking in such a distorted way," he says.
On July 31st, 2004, under psychotic delusions, David took Ian to a hotel in London, Ontario, and strangled him.
David was charged with first-degree murder, but found not criminally responsible due to his mental illness, and transferred to the forensic psychiatric facility at the Brockville Mental Health Centre in Ontario for treatment.
What wasn't brought up in court, was whether the drug he was on at the time had anything to do with David's psychotic state.
"... it has the pattern of 50 or 100 cases I've looked at fairly closely where people have committed mayhem, murder or suicide under psychiatric drugs," says American psychiatrist Dr. Peter Breggin.
"The pattern is that the person stopped the drugs and then started the drug. Carmichael started the drug again, less than three weeks before he kills his child. And what we find is that it's that initial few weeks when the drug has the most impact, when it's either increased in dose, decreased in dose, or stopped."
W-FIVE approached GlaxoSmithKline, the makers of Paxil, for an interview on possible links between their antidepressant and this violent act, but they declined to participate. In a newspaper report this summer, spokesperson Peter Schram said:"David Carmichael's case is certainly a terrible tragedy, however we do not believe Paxil played any part in this situation."
Dr. John Bradford, forensic psychiatrist with the Royal Ottawa Health Care Group, does not subscribe to the theory that Paxil triggered David's psychosis. He was one of the first to assess David's mental health after the tragedy.
"I'm not purely in myself entirely convinced it's the drugs that are at fault," he says. "I think it would be a very wrong message to give. These drugs have ... helped millions of people and I have no reservation in prescribing them. I've been prescribing them for years."
We may never know exactly what caused David's psychotic state, which leads to the question, could it happen again?
Dr. Bradford says it's unlikely. What he's more worried about is whether David can ever really forgive himself for killing Ian.
"...David is doing well at this time, but I'd always worry about suicide risk in the future, because whether he is actually able to ever come to absolute terms with himself about forgiving David for what he did is going to be an open question."
Source Over the Edge
If this speculation turns out to be correct, Canada will once again be engulfed in the debate that arose in the case of Tracy Latimer, a
To deal with such cases in a more systematic way, a better approach would be for Parliament to change the criminal code to recognize the crime of "compassionate homicide" with no mandatory minimum sentence. Although this was suggested over a decade ago, it hasn't happened.
UPDATE TO: David Carmichael
|Accused dad seeks speedy murder trial|
JANE SIMS, Free Press Justice Reporter 2005-02-23 03:17:20
A Toronto father accused of killing his son at a London hotel chose yesterday to have his case heard as quickly as possible. David Carmichael, 46, agreed to waive his preliminary hearing in the Ontario Court of Justice. Trial date will be set next month.
Carmichael is charged with first-degree murder in connection with the death of his son, Ian, 11, last July 31 at the Holiday Inn on Exeter Road.
David Carmichael was arrested after he called 911 from his sixth-floor hotel room.
After the death, Carmichael was described by friends and neighbours as a gentle, patient and loving father.
He is the former director of national projects at Particip-Action and director of research and development at the Ontario Physical and Health Education Association.
His son had a passion for BMX biking and may have had a medical condition that caused seizures.
Only Carmichael's voice was heard in the courtroom yesterday when his preliminary hearing was supposed to begin.
Carmichael spoke by phone from the St. Lawrence Valley Correction and Treatment Centre near Brockville, where he has been since he began a court-ordered psychiatric assessment.
Justice Ted McGrath asked Carmichael about the state of his health.
"I am feeling well today, yes," Carmichael replied.
Carmichael said he was prepared to proceed to trial.
His lawyer, Philip Campbell, who was in the courtroom, indicated to McGrath an early trial date was being sought.
A date is scheduled to be set March 8 in the Superior Court of Justice.
Campbell said he has a lengthy trial from March to the end of June and told the judge he is canvassing for a September trial date.
He requested Carmichael continue to be held at the Brockville facility.
Both Campbell and assistant Crown attorney Geoff Beasley said Carmichael is fit to stand trial.
Psychiatric reports have been filed indicating Carmichael's fitness, Beasley said.
by Arthur Weinreb, Associate Editor, Canada Free Press
August 9, 2004
Eleven-year-old Ian Carmichael was found dead in a London, Ontario hotel room on July 31. Although results of an autopsy were not released, it is believed that he was asphyxiated or strangled. The boy travelled from his home in Toronto to the western Ontario city with his father, David Carmichael, 46. The elder Carmichael was charged with first degree murder and is currently being held in the Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre.
If David Carmichael admitted to the police that he in fact killed his son and told them why he did it, the police arenít talking. At the time of this writing, Carmichael has refused legal counsel and nothing has been put forward by him or anyone on his behalf as to why his son ended up dead in a 6th floor hotel room.
The Carmichaels seem to be an ordinary, well liked family who lived in a nice middle-class area of Toronto. David Carmichael was popular in the sporting world in the area of physical fitness and at one time was the national director for ParticipAction, a federal fitness program that was cancelled some time ago.
Although neither the police nor Carmichael were talking, friends and neighbours of the family were. It was revealed that little Ian was developmentally delayed, but not seriously. Further facts came out that the boy may have suffered a brain aneurism last December and may have had a brain tumour, although no one knew whether or not it was malignant or benign. He suffered from frequent seizures.
Despite his medical problems, Ian Carmichael seemed to have led an active life. He was involved in competitive bike riding on his BMX bicycle and friends, family and neighbours were shocked at his sudden and violent death.
The media, quite naturally were speculating that Ianís medical condition was the factor that motivated his father in taking his young sonís life. But some in the media couldnít resist labelling the young boyís death as a "mercy killing". A salivating Merella Fernandez on Citytv announced that it could have been a mercy killing.
The use of the term "mercy killing" implies that the little boyís death was somehow justified. As we learned from the case of Robert Latimer, who killed his severely disabled daughter a few years ago, many in the media see absolutely nothing wrong with taking the life of a less than medically perfect child. And from all accounts, Ian Carmichael had a much better quality of life than Tracey Latimer did.
By referring to the death of Ian Carmichael as even a "possible mercy killing" the media are not only jumping to conclusions but putting a possible child killer in a positive light.
It is equally consistent that David Carmichael, the physical fitness guru, just couldnít be bothered with a son in less than perfect condition.
The media should just report what happened and avoid trying to guess the reasons until more information is revealed about why Carmichael took the life of his son.
Arthur Weinreb is an author, columnist and Associate Editor of Canada Free Press. His work has appeared on Newsmax.com, Men's News Daily, Drudge Report, Foxnews.com, Glenn Beck and The Rant. Arthur can be reached at: email@example.com
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