Bus attack suspect appears in Manitoba court
Published Friday, August 1, 2008 8:59PM EDT
The man accused of stabbing and beheading 22-year-old Tim McLean on a Greyhound bus never said a word when he appeared before a judge Friday in Winnipeg.
Vince Weiguang Li, from Edmonton, Alta., is facing a second degree murder charge in the death of McLean.
The 40-year-old walked into the Portage la Prairie, Man., courtroom with his head down and kept quiet during the entire proceedings.
Li reportedly lived a normal life in Edmonton with his wife and worked menial jobs there. Police said he had no known criminal record.
Li was guarded by RCMP officers and had a heavily-taped right hand and a swollen face.
Li did not reply when the judge asked if he was going to get a lawyer. He did nod slightly when asked if he was exercising his right not to speak.
The Crown has asked for a psychiatric assessment but the judge said he wanted Li to talk to a lawyer first.
Crown Attorney Larry Hodgson described the court appearance to CTV Newsnet from Portage la Prairie, Man.
Hodgson said that Li seemed to understand what the judge was saying to him.
"He responded with a nod at the appropriate time," the lawyer said.
Hodgson said as far as he knew, Li has not contacted anyone since the time of his arrest.
The matter was adjourned to Aug. 5, when the Crown will once again ask for a psychiatric assessment.
Victim 'not sleeping'
One of McLean's closest friends said that there was "no way" he would have done anything to set off his attacker.
"As far as I know, he's never gotten in a single fight," William Caron told reporters from his Winnipeg home. Caron knew McLean since Grade 7.
"He was a really fun, easy-going guy."
McLean was killed late Wednesday in an attack on a Greyhound bus destined for Winnipeg. Initial reports said McLean was sleeping with his head against the window when a large man sitting beside him attacked.
However, Caron said he was not asleep when the attack happened. He said that McLean and an ex-girlfriend were texting each other back and forth, up to only minutes before the attack.
Caron said McLean was returning to Winnipeg after working at a carnival booth at fairs around western Canada.
"He was always big on travelling, he didn't like to sit in one place," he said of why McLean enjoyed working the carnival circuit.
Caron's brother, Derek Caron, waited all night at the bus depot for McLean to arrive.
"I got a phone call from a guy who talked to a guy and he told me and I had to see it for myself," he told CTV News. "I waited there . . . he never got off the bus"
Earlier Friday, McLean's family said they were angry at how long it took the RCMP to inform them that McLean was the victim.
CTV's Murray Oliver visited the family's house in Winnipeg Friday and spoke to McLean's sister.
"She told us that in fact they didn't know that Tim was the victim in this crime until last night when a journalist came to their house and knocked on the door," said Oliver.
"Obviously they're wondering why the RCMP did not come and inform the family for such a long time."
He said the family had been following the story when the news first broke early Thursday.
"Then, to get the knock on the door, and to find out that it's your son, it's your brother -- I can't imagine how it must have been for them and that shock is written on their faces," said Oliver.
He said the family was also angry with the media.
"Tim's sister told us the family feels they really can't say a word -- not even to speak about Tim's life -- until they can assemble the family together and they can come up with a joint statement," he said.
Brian, who asked that his last name not be used, worked with McLean and described him Friday as an easy-going guy.
"The one thing that I noticed about Tim was that he never took anything seriously," Brian told CTV Newsnet.
He said if McLean did have a chance to fight back he would have.
"I don't think Tim is the type of person to take any crap from anyone," he said.
Meanwhile, over 12,000 people have joined Facebook tribute pages to McLean.
"I can't believe this is happening," wrote Leah Dryburgh of Winnipeg.
"Tim, you were the best guy ever. You didn't deserve this at all."
A post-mortem on McLean's body will be conducted Friday at the Winnipeg Health Sciences Centre. RCMP officials have not officially released the identity of the victim.
Meanwhile, many of passengers on the bus received counselling following the ordeal and have since returned home.
Frank Yeo, whose daughter was on the bus when the attack happened, said she's now trying to recover from the ordeal.
"Fortunately she didn't see full details head on but she saw enough that she's pretty traumatized," Yeo told CTV Newsnet on Friday.
Yeo said it's going to take a long time for many of the witnesses to recover.
"There were small children on the bus, there were a lot of people for who an event like this will just devastate them emotionally," he said.