MANDEL: Murderer’s drug-induced psychosis defence rejected

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It was a valiant effort by his defence team.

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But a Brampton judge has found Joseph Chang “knew what he was doing and acted intentionally” when he fired three shots at close range at girlfriend Alicia Lewandowski before leaving the young woman for dead.

Chang, 42, showed little emotion as Superior Court Justice Jennifer Woollcombe convicted him of second-degree murder, rejecting his claim that he was suffering from a drug-induced psychosis at the time and didn’t intend to kill her in the early morning hours of March 5, 2018.

Lucky for him, though, the judge also rejected the Crown’s argument that the killing had been planned and deliberate and so he was acquitted of first-degree murder.

According to her mom, Lewandowski’s heroin addiction worsened when she became involved in 2014 with Chang, an alleged drug dealer.

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Their relationship had its ups and downs — including a 2016 domestic abuse complaint that Lewandowski later retracted — and by his birthday on March 2, 2018, Chang was holed up in his Toronto apartment refusing to answer his door or respond to her many phone calls and texts.

Alicia Lewandowski (Facebook)
Alicia Lewandowski (Facebook)

Lewandowski eventually called 911, telling officers she was worried because her boyfriend was “doing a lot of drugs.” His lawyers later argued that his use of crack cocaine had made him so delusional that he’d destroyed his condo that night looking for bugging devices and even accidentally flooded the unit when he removed the sprinkler.

The judge didn’t see it that way.

Before firefighters arrived to deal with the broken sprinkler, Woollcombe said, Chang was lucid enough to toss his gun, magazine, and silencer as well as baggies of cocaine off his balcony. He also knew to contact his lawyer.

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On March 5, after days of refusing to communicate with her, Chang had armed himself with a friend’s 9mm Luger and picked Lewandowski up outside her mother’s Mississauga townhouse. They went for a drive and returned just before 5 a.m.

“The 911 call, combined with the rest of the admissible evidence, tell the chilling story of what followed,” Woollcombe said.

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“Oh my God, oh my God, I’m…I’m dying,” Lewandowski told the 911 operator. “He just shot me in the head.”

.Just over three minutes later, she was heard saying, “Stop. Stop it” and “What are you doing?”

And then she screamed.

“He just shot me again. Oh my God,” she cried. “Oh my God. Oh my God. No. Oh. Oh. Oh. Oh.”

Then silence. Lewandowski had been shot again in the back and abdomen. When police arrived, they found her face down and unconscious on the parking lot pavement. She was dead.

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Chang was arrested that night at a Toronto McDonald’s, the murder weapon in a gift bag given to him hours earlier by his girlfriend to celebrate his birthday.

The judge had harsh words for Dr. Peter Collins, the defence forensic psychiatrist, who was adamant that Chang was in a drug-induced hallucination and firing at phantom enemies near the parking lot fence.

“I find this opinion implausible,” she said, adding there was no “absolutely” no evidence to support the drug use or hallucination except for Chang’s word.

Prosecutors suggested Chang, who was facing an upcoming trial on drug charges, was so angry that Lewandowski had called police when he didn’t answer his door that he planned to carry through with his threat to “put a bullet in her head.”

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The judge rejected that as well, but admitted we will never understand why he killed the woman who had always stood by him.

“Something went wrong between them. Stressed, anxious, and paranoid, Mr. Chang had a loaded gun with him. For reasons that will likely never be known, he decided to shoot her in the head,” Woollcombe concluded.

  1. Joseph Chan

    MANDEL: Was alleged murderer suffering from a mental disorder?

  2. Alicia Lewandowski

    MANDEL: Boyfriend threatened to put a bullet in daughter’s head, says victim’s mom

  3. Alicia Lewandowski (Facebook)

    MANDEL: Murder victim called 911 and identified boyfriend, trial hears

“Knowing that she had been shot once and had called 911 for assistance, he made the callous decision to shoot her again, killing her.”

A sentencing hearing is scheduled for November.

mmandel@postmedia.com

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