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Sundre McDonald's machete murder trial resumed Tuesday

Psychiatrist who diagnosed admitted killer Solaimane Elbettah as suffering from schizophrenia cross-examined on June 4 in Court of King's Bench
Solaimane Elbettah, facing the camera, and Josh Burns in the Sundre McDonald's restaurant prior to Burns' death on July 4, 2022.

CALGARY - The trial of a man accused of killing a coworker at the Sundre McDonald's restaurant in July 2022 has resumed in Court of King's Bench in Calgary.

Solaimane Elbettah faces a first-degree murder charge in the death of Josh Burns, 19, an Innisfail High School graduate.

He has pleaded not guilty to the charge.

His Court of King's Bench judge-only trial before Justice Glen Poelman began on Feb. 26, was adjourned on Feb. 29 and resumed Tuesday, June 4.

Elbettah, a manger, has admitted killing Burns early on the morning of July 4, 2022 as the two men worked inside the Sundre McDonald's restaurant.

In an agreed statement of facts presented to the court, Elbettah admitted he struck Burns in the neck with a 17-inch machete he had brought into the restaurant moments earlier.

Elbettah’s lawyer, Pawel Milczarek Is making a not-criminally-responsible (NCR) defence.

On Feb. 29, psychiatrist Dr. Cynthia Baxter reportedly testified that Elbettah suffered delusions and hallucinations that caused him to believe demons were controlling him. She diagnosed Elbettah as suffering from schizophrenia.

Crown prosecutor Vince Pingitore cross examined Baxter on Tuesday.

She said during an interview with Elbettah he told her that staff members at the restaurant Including Burns were not following his directions in the days leading up to the killing.

“He was feeling disrespected,” said Baxter. “He had difficulty feeling disrespected and that (employees) weren't working hard and weren't doing their jobs.”

Pingitore said “He also told you that he believed that Mr. Burns was talking back to him, correct?”

“He believed that yes,” she said.

“He cited additional difficulties one being that Mr. Burns did not greet him well at work?” Pingitore asked.

“Yes,” she replied.

“He told you that Mr. Burns didn't follow directions from him?”

“Yes,” she said.

“And that was increasing tension between Mr. Burns and himself,” Pingitore said.

“Yes,” She said.

“He also believed that Mr. Burns was racist and prejudiced against Muslims, correct?”

“Yes,” she said. “At the time, Mr. Elbettah was preoccupied with people being against him, conspiracies that the employees were not following his commands. That basically he was a helpless victim against all kinds of forces conspiring against him.

“And for whatever reason he had picked out Mr. burns for being particularly problematic.”

The trial is scheduled to continue until Friday.

Elbettah has remained in custody since being arrested on July 4, 2022.

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