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Jury deciding fate of Toronto senior charged with murder of care home resident

A Toronto jury is now deliberating the fate of a Toronto senior accused of murdering a fellow resident in a long-term care home and trying to kill another.

TORONTO — A Toronto jury is now deliberating the fate of a Toronto senior accused of murdering a fellow resident in a long-term care home and trying to kill another.

Peter Brooks, 76, has pleaded not guilty to the first-degree murder of 72-year-old Jocelyn Dickson and the attempted murder of 91-year-old Lourdes Missier.

Jurors at his trial have heard that late one night in March 2013, Brooks used his cane to attack Dickson and Missier in their beds at the Wexford Residence in Toronto's east end.

Brooks has testified that a spirit in a dream told him to "beat the crap" out of his two fellow residents, and has insisted he didn't actually intend to harm anyone.

His defence lawyer has urged jurors to find the elderly man not criminally responsible due to a mental disorder, arguing that Brooks has dementia and is unable to appreciate the nature of his actions.

But the Crown has argued that Brooks knew what he was doing was not only legally wrong, but morally wrong as well. The Crown has also said Brooks is lying about what he does and does not remember.

On the charge he faces in Dickson's death, the jury has the option of finding Brooks not guilty, not criminally responsible on account of a mental disorder, guilty of manslaughter, guilty of second-degree murder or guilty of first-degree murder.

In relation to Missier, Brooks can be found not criminally responsible, not guilty or guilty of attempted murder.

Justice Maureen Forestell, who presided over the case, told the jury it is the job of the defence to prove Brooks is not criminally responsible on a balance of probabilities.

To do that, the defence must prove that Brooks suffered from a mental disorder on the day of the attacks and must prove that at the time of the offence, he was incapable of either appreciating the nature and quality of the act, or knowing that it was wrong.

Forestell told the jury to weigh all the evidence in the case cumulatively, noting that it included testimony from Brooks, staff at his long-term care home, a geriatric psychiatrist and two forensic psychiatrists, who both found Brooks had varying levels of dementia.

"The natural physical consequences of striking a person in the face and head with a cane would include causing injury and or death. It would be reasonable to assume that a sane and a sober person would appreciate those consequences," Forestell said.

"The issue you must determine, however, is whether because of a mental disorder Mr. Brooks did not have the ability to appreciate those consequences."

Forestell also told the jury that a not criminally responsible finding does not mean that Brooks will immediately return into the community but rather, that he would remain in custody until a hearing on the level of security needed for him.

The trial has heard Brooks had testy relations with both women who were attacked, who he described as "annoying" and aggravating him constantly.

The jury heard Brooks allegedly attacked Missier first, swinging his cane at the head of the woman who was awake at the time and raised her hands to protect herself. She was left with fractured fingers, bruises and lacerations on her face.

While staff were responding to what happened to Missier, Brooks quietly made his way to another floor, where Dickson, a woman who was paralyzed on one side of her body, was asleep in her bed, the Crown said.

Using his cane once more, Brooks delivered at least seven distinct blows to Dickson's head causing "massive" injuries that led to the woman's death, the Crown has said. The force of the blows was strong enough to break off the top of Brooks' cane.

The trial has heard that Brooks then tried to make his way to the room of another woman he had a rocky relationship with but was stopped by staff who, only after a violent struggle, were able to wrestle away his cane.

When one of those staff members, a janitor, asked Brooks why he had done what he had done, the senior said it was for "revenge," the Crown has told the jury.

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