Father Who Killed One-Year-Old Son with Axe May Be Allowed to Travel in Southwestern Ontario

Father Who Killed One-Year-Old Son with Axe May Be Allowed to Travel in Southwestern Ontario

Father Who Killed One-Year-Old Son with Axe May Be Allowed to Travel in Southwestern Ontario

A Mennonite father who killed his one-year-old son with an axe may be allowed to travel to parts of southern Ontario in the coming months, but a long-term plan for reintegration into his tight-knit community remains unclear.

Incident and Arrest

The Waterloo Regional Police Service was called to a property on Powell Road in Wellesley Township on September 18, 2021, where they found the child’s body in the basement of a home. Within minutes of the first officer’s arrival, Isaac Martin, the child’s 31-year-old father, was arrested. Martin was charged with first-degree murder.

Court Ruling

In January 2024, a judge found Martin not criminally responsible (NCR) on account of a mental disorder for the death of his son, Mahlon. “It was obvious that Mr. Martin was suffering from a severe major mental illness operating at the time of the incident itself that deprived him of his ability to realize that these acts were wrong,” Martin’s lawyer Steve Gehl told CTV News.

Current Status and Review Board Hearing

Martin is now at the Southwest Centre for Forensic Mental Health Care in St. Thomas and is under the jurisdiction of the Ontario Review Board. This body receives updates on his treatment and determines what privileges he may have, with the long-term goal of eventual reintegration into society. Martin’s first review board hearing was held in April, and a detailed report into the hearing before a five-person panel and their subsequent decision (called the reasons for disposition) has now been released.

Mental Health and Treatment

The report describes how, in a police interview after his arrest, Martin said he received a message from God to murder his child, though he expressed regret for his actions and said he didn’t know what came over him. The panel determined Martin is still considered a significant threat and has a diagnosis of bipolar disorder with psychotic features. Martin will remain detained at the Southwest Centre for Forensic Mental Health but, depending on his progress in the coming months, he may eventually be allowed to visit Elgin and Middlesex counties with indirect supervision and go to Southwestern Ontario while accompanied by staff or another approved person.

Potential for Supervised Visits

“The way that works is that the board authorizes maximums that the hospital can allow. The hospital will then determine whether or not Mr. Martin is ready to exercise those privileges,” Gehl explained. Martin’s psychiatrist, Dr. Ajay Prakash, told the Review Board panel that Martin’s symptoms have recently improved and one of his key strengths is a respectful attitude towards authority.

Reintegration Challenges

However, it is noted that the major issue to address will be Martin’s reintegration into the Orthodox Mennonite community he has lived in for his entire life. The report notes that a return would need to be unanimously approved by the tight-knit community, and that a lengthy in-person ‘soul stripping’ would be expected by them. Gehl stated it will be up to the community whether they wish to explore having Martin return. “They do have a process for that, so they’ll have to decide if they want to do it, when they want to do it, and whether or not when they do it if it’s successful,” said Gehl.

Community Response and Future Plans

The panel heard that attempts have already been made to contact community elders and Martin’s wife, but so far there has been no response. Dr. Prakash told the panel that if the Mennonite community ultimately refuses to readmit Martin, then the plan to transition from the hospital is unknown. The review board report goes on to say Martin’s adaptive and cognitive skills would be explored before determining what an appropriate group home for him would be. Gehl mentioned there are other options for Martin. “It will be difficult for him to integrate into other communities, but he’s never tried, and he has assistance from the hospital and from his team and from others who will assist him in trying that experiment at some point in time, as well as considerations of returning to his own community.”

Future Hearings

Dr. Prakash told the panel it seems unlikely that Martin would be ready to live in the community in this coming year. Ontario Review Board hearings are held annually for patients, but the report notes that if Martin progresses faster than expected, his next date could be held earlier than planned.

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