NCR hearing begins for man accused of fatally shooting wife in December 2018

The inside of an Edmonton courthouse. Ed Kaiser / Postmedia, file

A hearing to determine whether a man is criminally responsible for fatally shooting his wife in December 2018 was told Tuesday he was likely suffering from delusions leading up to the death.

Wen Zhang is accused of the second-degree murder of his wife, 49-year-old Wenlan Bu, on Dec. 28, 2018. Zhang appeared in Edmonton court Tuesday morning with a Mandarin-language interpreter to help him understand the proceedings.

Zhang pleaded not guilty at the beginning of the hearing on grounds of being not criminally responsible.

Crown prosecutor Allison Downey-Damato read into the court record an agreed statement of facts on the events leading up to and including the day of Bu’s death, and said the Crown will not be contesting the evidence.

Court heard Zhang and Bu had been married for 27 years and emigrated from China to Canada in 1999. They have one daughter together.

Downey-Damato, reading from the agreed statement of facts, said in the time leading up to Bu’s death, Zhang began to “act in a bizarre manner” and became “extremely paranoid and delusional” especially during the week prior.

“(He was) thinking he was being followed and tracked by unknown people from an unknown organization out to get him,” Downey-Damato said, adding Zhang believed Bu was part of this organization and was involved in an extramarital affair.

On Dec. 28, 2018, things escalated when Zhang heard Bu on a phone call speaking about a meeting and thought she was talking about him and the organization. Downey-Damato read Zhang took a knife from the kitchen and used it to pry open a gun case in the basement.

Zhang came up from the basement while Bu was still on the phone, she saw him, screamed and Zhang shot her.

According to the facts, Bu was found lying in a pool of blood on the laundry room floor with a gunshot wound to the torso.

While officers were still at the home, Zhang arrived at downtown Edmonton police headquarters to turn himself in.

Dr. Andrew Haag, a forensic psychologist at the Alberta Hospital, conducted an 82-page report on Zhang and diagnosed him with a “delusional disorder.”

“He, in my opinion, had presence of delusions for one month or longer,” Haag testified, adding the delusions significantly impacted Zhang’s life.

Haag testified he eliminated the diagnosis of schizophrenia because Zhang did not manifest any hallucinations or present symptoms such as “grossly disorganized behaviour.”

“(Zhang’s) prominent symptom in all that time was delusions,” Haag said.

Downey-Damato asked if the delusions changed over time to which Haag said yes, they were fluid and began with Zhang believing his wife was having an affair.

“This expanded quite significantly,” said Haag.

“He was very, very concerned about surveillance, being hacked, his bank being depleted.”

Haag said Zhang also believed his wife was the orchestrator of the unknown organization.

“I have no credible evidence to suggest he was being observed by a third party,” said Haag, adding there was also no evidence that suggested Bu was having an affair.

The hearing is scheduled to continue Wednesday and will hear from a forensic psychiatrist.

ajunker@postmedia.com