Allan Schoenborn answered questions Thursday during his annual British Columbia Review Board hearing in front of a panel charged with deciding whether he should be a candidate for unescorted overnight leave of up to 28 days from the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital in Coquitlam.
Schoenborn has been incarcerated at the hospital since 2010. A final decision on any kind of leave related to his case is made at the discretion of the hospital director.
The now 54- year-old was found not criminally responsible on three counts of first-degree murder in the stabbing and smothering deaths of his children Kaitlynne, 10, Max, 8, and Cordon, 5, in the family’s Merritt, B.C., trailer in 2008.
An earlier trial found Schoenborn was experiencing psychosis at the time of the killings and believed he was saving his children from sexual and physical abuse.
Schoenborn appeared via video link wearing a blue button-up collar shirt, glasses, with thinning hair and visibly heavier than the widely circulated police photo from 2008.
“I’m just a puppet on a stick right now. I’ve lost everything and I’m just trying to be the way people want me to be,” he said, when asked how he might respond if recognized by members of the public .
“I don’t want to be that guy that goes back to the bottle … that lashes out at people in public — the crazy old man. I just want to work and be content with everyday community life outside of the hospital.”
Schoenborn’s lawyer Rishi Gill said his client has demonstrated a “positive trajectory” since being granted escorted and unescorted day leave in the past three years.
The panel heard how Schoenborn has gone on over a dozen visits with his mother to restaurants and shopping, and on a handful of unescorted leaves to attend an employment training program in Surrey, all which went off “with no concern,” according to a hospital liaison worker.
Lawyer Michelle Booker told the panel the Crown does not support expanding his leave and would like the conditions of Schoenborn’s existing custody order to stand.
Schoenborn’s attending psychiatrist since 2019 said his psychosis has been in complete remission for years with the help of a monthly injection of anti-psychotic medication. Dr. Robert Lacroix said he considers his patient a low risk to relapse into substance use.
“He has a good understanding of his previous difficulties with substance use and the importance of remaining sober,” said Lacroix. “Over the entire period of time in hospital, he has never involved himself in the contraband trade or subculture in the hospital, which is very common and quite a problem on some units.”
Lacroix indicated Schoenborn would need to find employment and an appropriate place to live if granted extended leave.
A good deal of the hearing focused on how Schoenborn would react if recognized while out in the community, something he described as his “biggest fear.”
“When that time comes that I’m found out, I will walk away from the job, walk away from the apartment and come back to hospital. I don’t think I can live with the overwhelming feeling that comes with that,” he said.
Schoenborn said he has never been recognized during leaves from the hospital to date, and that he is in the process of changing his name.
Lacroix said Schoenborn is subjected to taunting on his unit at the hospital. In 2020, an unidentified staff member scrawled the word “killer” across the photo in Schoenborn’s secure chart, Lacroix said.
Crown representatives focused on an incident in July 2021 when Schoenborn fought back against another patient who attacked him in the hospital TV room, implying he still has anger management issues.
Schoenborn said it was the third time he was attacked by another patient but the first time he fought back.
Crown also referred to a standing victim impact statement from the brother of Darcie Clarke, Schoenborns ex-wife and mother of the murdered children who passed away in 2019. The Clarkes have advocated against any kind of release.
In an addendum, Mike Clarke wrote that Friday, March 4 would have been Kaitlynne’s 24th birthday.
The panel is expected to make a decision in the next few days.
In 2017, a B.C. Supreme Court judge ruled against an application to have Schoenborn declared a dangerous offender, a designation that would have quashed any possibility that he could leave the hospital.