(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

Court

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

Just Posted

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said Thursday that the province may consider a regional approach to loosening COVID-19 restrictions if numbers continue to decline. (photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Province further easing health restrictions

Numbers of people hospitalized and in intensive care has dropped dramatically, says premier

Government of Alberta COVID-19 Aggregate Data Map. Screen Grab/ https://www.alberta.ca/stats/covid-19-alberta-statistics.htm#geospatial
City of Wetaskiwin under 10 active cases; single active case in County

Active COVID-19 cases in the City and County of Wetaskiwin continue to drop.

File photo
Alberta’s central zone has 670 active cases

301 new cases identified Sunday

Alberta has 1,910 active cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday. Red Deer is reporting five active cases, with 108 recovered. (File photo)
Red Deer reports 25th COVID-19 death

415 new cases identified provincially Saturday

Alberta Health reported two new COVID-19 deaths in Red Deer Friday. (Image courtesy CDC)
Two more deaths linked to Olymel outbreak in Red Deer

Province reported 356 additional COVID-19 cases Friday

Ryan Jake Applegarth of Ponoka, 28, is scheduled to appear at Ponoka Provincial Court on March 12, 2021. (File photo)
Discussions about justice continue as Ponoka murder victim’s case proceeds

Reaction to comments Ponoka Staff Sgt. Chris Smiley made to town council last month

Dr. Stanley Read
Hometown Bashaw doctor recognized with alumni award for AIDS work

Dr. Stanley Read, born and raised in Bashaw, is considered a global health leader

A copy of the book “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street,” by Dr. Seuss, rests in a chair, Monday, March 1, 2021, in Walpole, Mass. Dr. Seuss Enterprises, the business that preserves and protects the author and illustrator’s legacy, announced on his birthday, Tuesday, March 2, 2021, that it would cease publication of several children’s titles including “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street” and “If I Ran the Zoo,” because of insensitive and racist imagery. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
6 Dr. Seuss books won’t be published for racist images

Books affected include McElligot’s Pool, On Beyond Zebra!, Scrambled Eggs Super! and The Cat’s Quizzer

AstraZeneca’s vaccine ready for use at the vaccination centre in Apolda, Germany, Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Michael Reichel/dpa via AP
National panel advises against using Oxford-AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine on seniors

NACI panel said vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna are preferred for seniors ‘due to suggested superior efficacy’

Shipping containers are seen at the Fairview Cove Container Terminal in Halifax on Friday, Aug. 25, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Canadian economy contracted 5.4 per cent in 2020, worst year on record

Drop was largely due to shutdowns in the spring as COVID began to spread

A ” Justice for Jeff” T-shirt. (Photo submitted)
Rally to be held outside Red Deer courthouse for slain Ponoka man

Sentencing for accused charged with manslaughter with a firearm set for March 4

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Time to check the mail: Every household to receive a Canada Post postcard this spring

Postcard can be mailed for free to any address in Canada

A cross-country skier glides along the banks of the Ottawa River in Ottawa on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. Canadians across the country can look forward to a mild spring peppered with the odd winter flashback throughout the first part of the season, according to predictions from one prominent national forecaster. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Mild spring with some wintry blasts predicted for most of Canada: Weather Network

Weather Network is forecasting a slower than average start to spring in British Columbia

Most Read