(Black Press Media files)

(Black Press Media files)

‘Fundamentally bizarre’: Edmonton woman who drove SUV into mother won’t go to prison

Judge concluded that woman had a hallucination

A woman who rammed an SUV into the side of an Edmonton fast-food restaurant and critically injured her mother won’t serve any time in prison.

Donna Elder, 62, was charged with attempted murder, aggravated assault and dangerous driving causing bodily harm. She was accused of trying to kill her then 85-year-old mother, Katherine Triplett, outside a Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet in July 2018.

Triplett died nearly nine months later, but the charges were not upgraded.

Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Brian Burrows found Elder, a former teacher and nun, not guilty of attempted murder and not criminally responsible because of a mental disorder on the two other charges.

“My reason for so concluding is that Ms. Elder’s conduct was so fundamentally bizarre,” Burrows said Tuesday in his judgment.

“Even if she and her mother had argued, which the evidence does not establish, for Ms. Elder to drive her car into her mother, through the wall and window of the KFC building which she had just exited and which she knew had several other people in it, and to thereby endanger several lives including her own … is an exceedingly disproportionate reaction.”

An agreed statement of facts submitted to the court says Elder and her mother went to the KFC to order takeout food. Triplett then waited outside for her daughter to get the vehicle.

It says Elder got into her Toyota RAV4 and drove it straight toward Triplett and struck her, knocking her through the window and into the restaurant. Elder then put the vehicle into reverse and drove a second time into the restaurant, pinning Triplett against the broken furniture, says the statement.

Bystanders were quoted in the statement as hearing Triplett say, “I don’t know why my daughter Donna would try to kill me.”

Triplett was taken to hospital, where the statement says she later had to have her left leg amputated below the knee and saw her poor respiratory health deteriorate.

Elder testified in court that she had heard a friendly male voice and other female voices when she got into her vehicle. She said the male voice told her “the pepper-haired woman was going to hurt my mother.”

She said she drove into the store to stop the pepper-haired woman, but did not remember driving into it twice.

“In cross-examination she testified that she was not trying to kill the pepper-haired woman with her car in order to protect her mother,” said the judgment. “She testified that she was certainly not trying to hurt her mother.

“She testified that she did not know how driving her car into the side of the KFC would protect her mother.”

Burrows noted that several different mental health experts testified at the trial, but they disagreed on whether Elder appreciated her actions at the time of the event and her overall diagnosis.

He ultimately accepted one expert report, which concluded Elder likely suffered a hallucination, as well as Elder’s testimony during the trial.

“Her conduct here is so far off reasonable conduct for anyone, and so very far off conduct for Ms. Elder herself, that in my view, it is likely that at the relevant moment her mind failed her — she did not process the nature and quality of her actions or their wrongfulness,” concluded Burrows.

His decision will now go to the Alberta Review Board, which is an independent tribunal established under the Criminal Code of Canada to make and review dispositions in such cases.

Colette Derworiz, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Court

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A woman wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 uses walking sticks while walking up a hill, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Interior Health reports 83 more COVID-19 infections overnight

46 cases are now associated with a COVID-19 community cluster in Revelstoke

Green spaces have offered many a sense of peace throughout the pandemic. (Photo Contributed)
Nature Conservancy of Canada matches all donations on Dec. 1

The initiative honours Giving Tuesday, an initiative created to combat Black Friday’s consumerism

Signs are posted at the entrance of newly deactivated roads. (Photo Contributed)
Teck hosts virtual Annual Outdoor Recreationalist Meeting

The Dec. 2 meeting will touch on biodiversity, reclamation, and road rehabilitation

A man wearing a face mask to prevent the spread of COVID-19 walks past a mural in Vancouver on Monday, Nov. 30, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
212 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health over the weekend

A total of 490 cases remain active; 15 in hospital

File Photo
Missing hunter found dead in South Country

A hunter was reported as overdue on Nov. 29, and was found deceased on Nov. 30 following an RCMP and SAR operation

A tongue-in-cheek message about wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 on a sign outside a church near Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection count climbs back up to 656

20 more people in hospital, active cases still rising

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C. researchers launch study to test kids, young adults for COVID-19 antibodies

Kids and youth can often be asymptomatic carriers of the novel coronavirus

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A sign is seen this past summer outside the Yunesit’in Government office west of Williams Lake reminding visitors and members to stay safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Rebecca Dyok photo)
B.C. First Nation leaders await privacy commissioner decision on COVID-19 information

Release of life-saving data cannot wait, says coalition of First Nations

MLA Jennifer Whiteside is B.C.’s new minister of education. She is speaking out against Chilliwack school trustee Barry Neufeld and asking him to resign. (Black Press)
New education minister calls on Chilliwack trustee to resign

Whiteside echoes former minister’s promise to look at options to remove Barry Neufeld

Peter Beckett. ~ File photo
Supreme Court of Canada to decide if it will hear appeal in 2010 wife murder trial

Peter Beckett has stood trial twice for murder in connection with the death of his wife, Laura Letts-Beckett

Tabor Home in Abbotsford. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)
B.C.’s largest COVID-19 care-home outbreak records 19 deaths, 147 cases

Tabor Home in Abbotsford has been battling outbreak since Nov. 4

Most Read