National Newswatch

TORONTO — A woman charged in an apparently unprovoked fatal stabbing in Toronto's financial district is expected to stand trial next January.

Rohinie Bisesar is charged with first-degree murder in the death of 28-year-old Rosemarie Junor.

Junor, a newlywed medical technician, died several days after being stabbed at a Shoppers Drug Mart in Toronto's popular underground PATH network of shops and restaurants on Dec. 11, 2015.

During a court appearance on Wednesday, a judge scheduled Bisesar's trial to begin on Jan. 8, 2018.

Bisesar's lawyer was also removed from her case during the hearing, at her request, which means she now has to find a new one. It was the second time Bisesar asked for a new lawyer.

The case returns to court on Monday, when the Crown is expected to ask for a psychiatric assessment for Bisesar to determine if she can be found not criminally responsible — a request the woman has already objected to.

"I do not want a psychiatric assessment. That's a great way to cover up what's happening," Bisesar said. "It's not a psychiatric disorder."

Justice John McMahon, who is presiding over the case, explained that the Crown is entitled to ask for an assessment in relation to whether Bisesar was not criminally responsible for the offence she's charged with.

A person can be found not criminally responsible if they were suffering from a mental disorder at the time of the offence that made it impossible for them to understand the nature and quality of what they did or impossible for them to understand that what they were doing was wrong.

McMahon explained that Bisesar would not have to raise the issue of being not criminally responsible at trial but if a jury found her not guilty, then the Crown could potentially bring up the NCR issue at that stage.

Bisesar repeatedly said she was "a good person" and not responsible for Junor's death.

"There's something interacting with me," said Bisesar, who grew emotional in court at times. "I am a victim myself, I didn't ask for this but someone is doing it to me."

A previous mental health assessment was ordered for Bisesar in April 2016, after which a judge determined she was mentally fit to stand trial.

That type of assessment — different from a not criminally responsible evaluation — looks at a person's current state of mind and examines if an accused understands the charges they face and the court proceedings they are a part of, said Daniel Brown, a criminal defence lawyer who is not involved in Bisesar's case.

"Whether or not someone is currently unfit doesn't really do anything to really answer the question of whether or not they were criminally responsible at the time," Brown said.

The issue of mental fitness to participate in a trial can be raised by the defence, the Crown or the judge, and can be reassessed at any time, he said.

"But that only answers the question of whether or not the trial is able to proceed at that particular point in time," he said. "Not whether or not she has a legal defence to her actions at a previous point in time."

Junor's older brother said outside court that he was glad a trial date had been set for Bisesar.

"It's been a trying time for all of us," said Richard Junor. "It's just a matter of just waiting."

Security images taken at the time of Junor's stabbing showed a well-dressed, long-haired woman making a hasty retreat from the drugstore. Bisesar was the subject of a manhunt for several days before her arrest.

Diana Mehta, The Canadian Press

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