BC Court to appoint lawyer for convicted killer’s appeal

Yasmin Rashid was convicted of the September 10, 2019, slaying of 29-year-old Kyle Vincent Gabriel at a transitional home for young adults.

A BC Court of Appeal judge has ruled that it is in the best interests of justice for the court to appoint a lawyer for a man who is appealing his conviction for second-degree murder.

Yasin Jemal Rashid has been convicted of second-degree murder in the fatal stabbing of a resident of a Vancouver transitional home. On April 21, 2023, Judge Nathan Smith sentenced the 28-year-old to life in prison without parole eligibility for 12 years.

Rashid was convicted of the September 10, 2019, killing of 29-year-old Kyle Vincent Gabriel at Watson House. The House is a coastal health facility in Vancouver that helps young adults transition from inpatient psychiatric care to independent living.

Gabriel was stabbed several times in the chest.

The court heard that Rashid and Gabriel had been on friendly terms before the murder.

Rashid had gone to the kitchen, hidden a knife in his clothes, returned to Gabriel and stabbed him. The court heard Gabriel stagger from the room as Rashid fled.

“He was killed in his own room,” Crown prosecutor Michaela Donnelly told Smith.

In a newly released decision on April 15, Judge Barbara Fisher said Rashid lacked standing to bring the complex appeal.

She said Rashid could have a viable argument as to whether or not he was mentally capable of intending to commit murder.

The trial court heard that Rashid “was ‘in the ballpark’ of people who met the applicable statutory test”.

Psychiatrist Dr Shahram Lohrasbe said it was “highly unlikely that the applicant maintained a normal moral compass at the time of the offence, but could not comment on the degree of this distortion”.

Mental health issues

Smith had heard a defense argument for a person not criminally responsible by reason of a finding of mental disorder, but rejected it.

“He failed to demonstrate that he did not know his actions were wrong,” Smith said.

However, she heard claims that Rashid had been struggling with mental health problems and had been taking anti-psychotic medication, which had been stopped two months before Gabriel’s death.

Smith said any future danger to society Rashid may pose outweighs any diminished moral culpability stemming from a mental disorder.

Appointment of a lawyer

Fisher said there are two requirements for appointing an advisor. First, the accused must have insufficient means to obtain legal assistance and, second, the appointment of counsel must be in the interest of justice.

She said Rashid would need a lawyer to review the case file and present an argument to the court.

“He has little education, limited English and there is evidence of mental health issues,” Fisher said. “He faces substantial danger given the life sentence imposed. I agree with counsel that this case is relatively complex.”

“I believe it is in the best interests of justice that counsel be appointed in this matter,” she ruled.