NZ Shooting Suspect 'Has No Emotion' During Hearing

Man charged in mosque shootings ordered to undergo mental health check
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 5, 2019 12:46 AM CDT
NZ Mosque Suspect Ordered to Undergo Mental Health Check
A man in a wheelchair is escorted from outside the High Court in Christchurch, New Zealand, Friday, April 5, 2019.   (AP Photo/Mark Baker)

A New Zealand judge has ordered that the man accused of killing 50 people at two Christchurch mosques undergo two mental health assessments to determine if he's fit to stand trial. High Court judge Cameron Mander made the order during a Friday hearing in which 28-year-old Australian Brenton Harrison Tarrant appeared via video link from a small room at the maximum security Paremoremo prison in Auckland, the AP reports. Mander said nothing should be read into his order for the mental health assessments, as it was a normal step in such a case. Lawyers said it could take two or three months to complete. The judge said Tarrant was charged with 50 counts of murder and 39 counts of attempted murder. The next court hearing was scheduled for June 14.

Tarrant was wearing handcuffs when he appeared on a large screen inside the Christchurch courtroom, which was packed with victims' relatives and survivors of the mass shooting, some in wheelchairs and hospital gowns and still recovering from gunshot wounds. Tarrant showed no emotion during the hearing. At times he looked around the room or cocked his head, seemingly to better hear what was being said. The judge explained that from his end, Tarrant could see the judge and lawyers but not those in the public gallery. The day after the attacks, Tarrant dismissed an appointed lawyer, saying he wanted to represent himself. But he has now hired two Auckland lawyers to represent him. "It seems he don't care what has been done. He has no emotion. He looks all right," says one survivor. "I feel sorry. Sorry for myself. Sorry for my friends who have been killed. And for him." (More New Zealand mosque shootings stories.)

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