Nanaimo man found ‘not criminally responsible’ for murder of worker in Buzz Coffee House


A man accused of randomly murdering a senior who was working in Nanaimo’s Buzz Coffee House in 2022 was found not criminally responsible due to mental disorder in a Nanaimo courtroom on Wednesday.

Court heard that 31-year-old James Turok was in a psychotic state when he entered the Buzz Coffee House at 7:30 a.m. on Feb. 12, 2022, through an unlocked door and stabbed 79-year-old Eric Kutzner 12 times, as the senior prepared for the cafe’s staff and customers to arrive.

Turok was arrested at the scene and has remained in custody since.

The verdict of not criminally responsible due to mental disorder was the result of two psychiatrists testifying that Turok, who has an extensive history of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, was experiencing a “psychotic episode” at the time of the murder that made him incapable of understanding what he was doing.

READ PREVIOUS: Trial begins for man accused of murder at Buzz Coffee House in Nanaimo

The victim’s family was in court for the two-day trial and verdict at the Nanaimo Courthouse on Wednesday.

Jeff Kutzner told CHEK News that his father was a giving man who was always trying to help others. He said he was helping out his daughter the day he was murdered by working at her coffee house after his retirement.

“It’s not something he deserved. He did a lot for people with mental health issues. In Creston, he opened a centre for people with autism,” said Kutzner outside the Nanaimo courthouse.

In a tragic detail heard at trial, Turok’s defence counsel presented evidence that three days before the murder, he walked into Nanaimo Regional General Hospital in a disturbed state and demanded to see his psychiatrist but was turned away and left angry.

The victim’s son hopes the lapses in B.C.’s mental health system that were exposed at trial will be fixed.

“We didn’t expect him to go to jail. I hope he gets the counselling and the help he needs, I certainly don’t want the man any ill will. I just want him to be better, and I want the community to be safe,” said Kutzner.

Turok has been ordered to undergo a risk assessment at a forensic psychiatric hospital in Coquitlam, where he will remain for an undetermined amount of time.

Skye RyanSkye Ryan

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