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Killer weeps as father describes her descent into mental illness

Red Deer Advocate - 2/7/2018

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. — A former top Newfoundland athlete wept as her father and former boyfriend described her descent from a happy, healthy young woman to a murder suspect now on trial for killing a man with a hammer.

Anne Norris has admitted to killing Marcel Reardon, 46, in St. John's in May 2016, but her lawyer claims the 30-year-old is not criminally responsible because of a mental disorder.

Her father, Gary Norris, is the province's former top civil servant. Testifying this week at her first-degree murder trial, he described her as a confident, athletic and social child but after 2011 began to display strange behaviours.

He told Supreme Court in St. John's that over a two- to three-month period in 2015, he found a baseball bat under her bed, a steak knife, a BB gun, and a box cutter in her purse.

He said she became paranoid about threats and attacks that didn't appear to be real.

She told him that someone was following her, and that "someone put something in my coffee," he testified.

In 2011, Anne Norris told her parents she was going to the police to report being sexually assaulted. Gary Norris testified he believed his daughter, but the case would later be put on hold when concerns were raised about her mental health.

"I knew in my heart and soul that it didn't happen," said Gary Norris, who was clerk of the province's executive council and secretary to cabinet before retiring in 2010.

Anne Norris has sat quietly and shown little emotion through most of the trial, but wept as her father discussed her upbringing.

She wept as well as her former boyfriend testified. Brian Constantine said she was a "people person" who loved to laugh before she fell into a depression.

Anne Norris had been named to the women's under-19 basketball team competing for Newfoundland and Labrador at the junior national championships in 2005.

Constantine, 31, testified about multiple times when he felt Anne Norris's mental health was starting to slip.

He said he was babysitting his niece one night when Norris called begging him to return home. When he got there, she was inconsolable, and all the cupboard doors in the house were opened or torn off.


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