Luka Magnotta collapses after seeing video evidence in hearing
Andy Blatchford and Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press
Published Tuesday, March 19, 2013 12:16PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, March 19, 2013 5:58PM EDT
MONTREAL -- Luka Rocco Magnotta collapsed to the courtroom floor after seeing video evidence presented against him, forcing a postponement in his preliminary hearing Tuesday.
Magnotta appeared distraught as the video was played in the courtroom.
When it was over the suspect in a notorious killing-and-dismemberment case was lying on his right side, crumpled into a fetal position, at the feet of a prison guard.
Magnotta was still handcuffed and shackled as he slumped to the ground.
"You might want to make room for an ambulance," the Crown prosecutor, Louis Bouthillier, told the guards outside the courtroom as he exited.
His lawyers came to check in on him, and gazed at Magnotta through the glass-enclosed defendant's box in the special high-security courtroom where the case is being heard.
The episode occurred after Magnotta viewed evidence in the gruesome case, whose content is temporarily subject to a publication ban. The evidence could be made public if the case goes to trial, after the preliminary hearing.
There was no sign of an ambulance coming for Magnotta, and he may have been taken away from the courthouse in a regular prison vehicle.
What was clear was that Magnotta was not back in court when the afternoon session began at 2 p.m.
"He really doesn't feel well and he's not able to continue," his lawyer, Luc Leclair, told the judge.
Judge Lori-Renee Weitzman said they could not continue without Magnotta present. She ordered the case suspended until Wednesday morning.
Leclair told the court he believes his client will be fine with a little bit of rest and treatment.
During the morning segment Magnotta had held his hand over his mouth, as if he felt ill. His eyes were closed for much of the session as evidence was projected on screens all over the courtroom.
The 30-year-old suspect appeared to wipe away tears, behind his glasses, several times. His head remained down while one particular piece of evidence was presented.
Even the judge appeared to be affected by the evidence. She winced slightly at one point in the video.
Some police investigators present in the courtroom kept staring away from the screen.
As the morning session neared its end, Magnotta turned to the bailiff next to him and asked him to pass along a request for a break.
The bailiff raised his finger for permission to speak and asked the judge for a five-minute pause. The judge agreed to an extended break for lunch.
That's when Magnotta stood up and collapsed to the floor while making his way out of the courtroom.
He is charged with first-degree murder in the slaying of Jun Lin, a 33-year-old Concordia University engineering student from China.
Magnotta is also facing four other charges related to the case: committing an indignity to a body; publishing obscene material; criminally harassing Prime Minister Stephen Harper and other members of Parliament; and mailing obscene and indecent material.
Lin's parents were not in the courtroom Tuesday morning.
His father has attended the preliminary hearing at times but has not stayed in the courtroom when the most graphic evidence has been heard.