Both women were described as beautiful – the murder victim and the accused. The dead woman comes from Trinidad, and the accused, is a Guyanese.
That killing took place in December 2015. Now the trial of the Guyanese woman is about to start, but there is one hiccup.
The woman charged in the fatal stabbing has schizophrenia and is unfit to stand trial for first-degree murder, a forensic psychiatrist testified Monday in front of a jury in Ontario, Canada, the Toronto Star reported.
The accused, Rohinie Bisesar, is “acutely unwell” and suffers from hallucinations and delusions, which are fixed and false beliefs, “insofar no evidence to the contrary will convince you it’s not true,” Dr. Ian Swayze told Ontario Superior Court.
Bisesar is charged with killing Trinidadian Rosemarie Junor, 28, on December 11, 2015. She is scheduled to go on trial in front of a jury on January 8, 2018.
But the Crown, acting in Bisesar’s best interests, “should not prosecute an individual who is mentally unfit,” prosecutor Beverley Richards told court.
A different jury was empanelled Monday to consider whether Bisesar has a mental disorder and whether it renders her unable to fairly conduct her defence or instruct her counsel to do so.
During the proceedings, the woman frequently interrupted Justice John McMahon and commented throughout the jury selection process.
Bisesar also took the stand and offered rambling answers to questions by her lawyer, Robert Karrass, McMahon and Richards.
“There is something going on with me, but I do not think it is natural,” she said. “What I am experiencing is real time communication and movement from …(a) micro-aspect (that) could be internally in my body somewhere.”
Swayze testified while Bisesar understands the nature of the proceedings, and the possible consequences of a trial, she does not have the capacity to properly communicate with her legal counsel.
The doctor said he formed his opinion after a two-hour interview with Bisesar on September 6, 2017 as well as observing a three-day assessment she had with other medical professionals. Swayze also spoke to her in the holding cells before Monday’s hearing.
Bisesar told jurors she has no “natural mental disorder.” Bisesar believes her movements are controlled by unknown entities and that they are responsible if a homicide took place, the physician said.
Uniquely, Bisesar agrees she is not fit to stand trial but not because of a mental illness but because of the entity controlling her, Swayze said.
The hearing resumes Tuesday.
THE CASE OF BOTH WOMEN
AT 8 A.M. on December 11, 2015, Rosemarie Junor walked through the doors of Medcan, the private medical clinic at York and Adelaide where she worked. As always, her makeup and nail polish were perfectly applied, her dark hair carefully styled. Junor was the youngest of four children, her father was Trinidadian, her mother Guyanese, and she was the family’s high achiever.
She had started at Medcan in 2011 as a secretary; three years later, she was promoted to co-ordinator of an ultrasound test that screens for early signs of plaque buildup in the carotid artery, the only employee qualified to operate the machine. Junor cared deeply about her work. She had once sacrificed vacation days because she didn’t trust her replacement’s skills.
She had married Baldeo “Lenny” Persaud, a machinist at a Mississauga industrial manufacturing plant, five months earlier in an elaborate wedding featuring a Hindu ceremony for his family, a Catholic ceremony for hers, and a reception for 400 at a banquet hall near Highway 7 and Weston Road. Junor had three outfits—a red sari, a traditional white gown, and another formal dress for the reception, which Persaud had insisted on buying for her despite her protestations that it was too expensive.
Junor and Persaud had recently purchased a four-bedroom detached house in Brampton, which they hoped to fill with children. Christmas was two weeks away, and Junor was looking forward to hosting 35 family members for their first Christmas in the new home. A meticulous planner, she had already wrapped the presents, decorated the house and bought the ingredients for a Caribbean-Canadian feast: turkey, garlic ham, curry and rum cake.
It was a slow day at the clinic. Just before noon, a woman came in with a two-month-old baby. Her childcare plans had fallen through. Junor happily volunteered to babysit, then spent the next 20 minutes taking care of the infant while the client met with her doctor. About an hour later, human resources sent out an all-staff email applauding Junor for tending to the baby. She typed out a reply-all thanks on her phone.
Then, at 2:35 p.m., she took the elevator down to the Path system and walked a block southeast toward the Shoppers Drug Mart under the TD Bank Tower. As she arrived at the store, she got a phone call from a friend, who announced she’d just accepted a new job.
Suddenly, as Junor was walking down an aisle telling her friend how excited she was for her, she was approached and stabbed in the chest with a knife, which pierced her heart.
Over the phone, Junor’s friend heard her scream. Junor stumbled toward the pharmacy at the back of the store. “Help me,” she cried out. “I’ve been stabbed.” People flocked to her side. Meanwhile, security tapes show a petite woman in a business suit and lavender dress shirt walking calmly out of the store.
Rohinie Bisesar came to Toronto from Guyana in 1980, at age five. Her parents, Chandrabhan and Jasmattee, had arrived a few years earlier with their two other children,a boy, Narine, and a girl, Chandrawattee, and had left their youngest, Rohinie, in the care of a relative back in Guyana.
Once they’d settled in and scraped together some savings, they bought a three-storey brick house near Woodbine and Danforth, and Rohinie came to join the family shortly thereafter.
A second boy, Mahesh, was soon born. In the mid-’80s, the Bisesars opened Sandra’s and Chico’s, a small clothing store on the Danforth a few blocks from their home that’s now sandwiched between a storefront law office and a Chinese restaurant. They were hard-working, both had part-time jobs in addition to running the store, and prioritized education.
Their neighbour of 42 years, Francesco Dilorenzo, says they were perfect neighbours: “They’re very good people, beautiful people. A good family, very smart kids, all of them.”
Rohinie attended Monarch Park Collegiate, near Coxwell and Danforth. In her Grade 13 class photo, she’s smiling brightly, her long, wavy hair loose, bangs brushed to the side. In her graduation photo, taken a few months later, she’s cradling a bouquet of red roses, her face beaming, her black gown hanging off her tiny frame. But she is nowhere else in the yearbook—absent from photos of clubs and sports teams, or shots of kids on campus. She apparently had little time for after-school fun. Like her siblings, she was expected to work in the family store in her free time.
According to an ex-boyfriend of Rohinie’s, life at home was tightly controlled, and she grew increasingly resentful of her parents, especially her father, a devout Hindu with a conservative parenting style. The ex, agreed to be interviewed on the condition of anonymity. He says Rohinie told him she ran away from home when she was in her early teens. Two days later, a truck driver picked her up and brought her to the police. Some time after that, her father, fed up with her behaviour, took her to a Hindu healer for what he considered a cleansing ritual. Rohinie was made to remove her clothes in front of her father and have chicken blood poured on her.
After graduating from Monarch Park in 1993, Rohinie attended U of T Scarborough, studying sciences, while living at home. In the last year of her degree, she landed an internship at the Consumer Health Organization of Canada, a Toronto-based non-profit that focuses on holistic and alternative health care. She graduated five months later and took a job as a technical writer in York University’s math department, and then another as a computer technician. Trueman MacHenry was a professor of math and statistics at York when he met Rohinie. She impressed him with her curiosity and ability to make herself indispensable.
“She saw what the available jobs were at York, and she immediately trained herself to do them,” says MacHenry. “When she needed to know programming, for example, she learned it, all on her own. She was a very good problem solver.”
For eight years, Rohinie performed various roles at York, including stints as a technical writer, manager of the math department web page and general computing support provider, all while completing her Bachelor of Administrative Studies in 2004 and, in June 2007, her MBA. Throughout, she lived at home, where she felt increasingly suffocated. Her father disapproved of her wearing makeup, despite the fact that she was by this point in her late 20s. According to Geoffrey, Rohinie’s mother had access to her bank account and made regular withdrawals.
At age 28, Rohinie moved out, which shocked her parents, who, according to Geoffrey, believed a woman shouldn’t leave home before marriage. She moved to an apartment near York that she shared with a female roommate, a decision Geoffrey says prompted her father to ask Rohinie if she was a lesbian.
With her MBA and a strong academic record, Rohinie was following closely in the footsteps of her older sister, Chandra, a chartered financial accountant and investment banking executive in New York City. After completing her MBA program in the spring of 2007, Rohinie was hired on a summer contract as a research analyst for Cronus Capital Markets, a now-defunct investment firm, where she created reports and performed research on aspects of the mining industry.
ROHINIE BISESAR, LEFT, AND ROSEMARIE JUNOR