News Local

Vancouver man accused of murdering brother dies in prison

Keith Fraser, Postmedia Network

Police investigate a fatal stabbing in the lobby of an apartment at 41st and Balsam in Vancouver on November 13, 2014. (Wayne Leidenfrost/Postmedia Network)

Police investigate a fatal stabbing in the lobby of an apartment at 41st and Balsam in Vancouver on November 13, 2014. (Wayne Leidenfrost/Postmedia Network)

A Vancouver man accused of murdering his brother died in prison a week before a judge was expected to give his verdict in the case.

On Aug. 14, Douglas Cameron Orr, who had pleaded not guilty to the November 2014 second-degree murder of his brother, Robert Brown Orr, 59, was found unresponsive in his cell at North Fraser Pretrial Centre in Port Coquitlam and was declared dead.

Following a lengthy trial, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Jim Williams was scheduled to render his verdict on Aug. 21, but during a brief court appearance that day ordered that the proceedings be brought to an end.

Martin Peters, a lawyer who represented Orr at trial, said Monday that he spoke to a family member of the 69-year-old accused who told him that an autopsy of the accused revealed he had a heart condition.

"Which is not surprising, because the autopsy of his brother, the deceased, he also had a heart condition," said Peters.

Peters said, however, that he was not certain that the heart condition was the cause of death, as he has not seen an autopsy report. He said normally with an autopsy, toxicology results are submitted and it usually takes two to three weeks for those results to be available.

Corrections officials could not be reached. Orr had been in prison since his arrest in November 2014.

At the trial, Crown counsel Daniel Mulligan played a recording of a phone call that the accused placed from prison to a third brother in which he confessed to being in a "mad rage" when he killed his sibling.

The Crown's theory was that the accused confronted his brother in the lobby of the victim's Kerrisdale apartment and stabbed him to death due to long-standing anger and resentment over a decades-long stock market transaction.

Orr conceded at trial that he'd killed his brother, but Peters argued that his client's delusional mental state was such that it interfered with his ability to form the necessary intention to commit murder. Peters argued that Orr was guilty instead of the lesser and included offence of manslaughter.

"It's tragic that Mr. Orr was not able to get help for his condition or even admit that he had one," said Peters. "And it was a tremendous tragedy for the remaining members of the Orr family. It was really quite devastating for them and continues to be for them."

The trial began in 2015 but was adjourned soon after when a judge ordered the accused to undergo a psychiatric assessment after his then-lawyer said he couldn't get proper instructions from him. The case resumed earlier this year.

kfraser@postmedia.com