Magnotta found guilty of first-degree murder
Published Tuesday, December 23, 2014 6:09AM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, December 23, 2014 6:05PM EST
Luka Rocco Magnotta has been found guilty on all counts in the murder and dismemberment of Chinese engineering student Jun Lin, in a trial that hinged on Magnotta's mental state at the time of the grisly killing.
It took the eight women and four men on the jury eight days of deliberation to reach a verdict.
The jury also found Magnotta guilty of criminally harassing Prime Minister Stephen Harper and other MPs, guilty of mailing obscene and indecent material, guilty of committing an indignity to a body, and guilty of publishing obscene materials.
Magnotta was later sentenced to life in prison, with no possibility of parole for 25 years.
“We were not really surprised with the verdicts,” Crown prosecutor Louis Bouthillier told reporters outside the courthouse. “We were expecting it and we’re very happy.”
Magnotta’s lawyer, Luc Leclair, said his client was “disappointed,” but he accepts the verdict.
Lin was last seen alive entering Magnotta's Montreal apartment on May 24, 2012. One day later, a video surfaced online that showed Magnotta stabbing and dismembering Lin's lifeless body. It was titled "One Lunatic, One Ice Pick."
Magnotta, 32, fled to Europe, where German police caught up with him inside a Berlin Internet café on June 4.
The defence did not dispute that Magnotta caused Lin's death. However, Magnotta's lawyers argued that he is schizophrenic and that their client suffered a psychotic episode when he killed Lin. Therefore, they said, he was unable to distinguish right from wrong.
As a result, the defence asked the jury to find Magnotta not criminally responsible for Lin's death. The Crown argued that Magnotta was misdiagnosed and that his behaviour was the result of personality disorder.
Bouthillier said Magotta’s defence had a difficult challenge to prove Magnotta’s state of mind without calling him to the stand to testify.
“Nobody could attest to the accused’s state of mind at the time of the offence but himself,” Bouthillier said.
The jury, which could have found Magnotta guilty of first- or second-degree murder, manslaughter, or not criminally responsible due to mental disorder, had to consider testimony from 66 witnesses, as well as hundreds of pages of documents including medical files, reports from experts, and physical evidence.
Among the defence witnesses were two forensic psychiatrists who diagnosed Magnotta as schizophrenic. Drs. Joel Watts and Marie-Frederique Alllard said that Magnotta was in a deep psychotic state at the time Lin was killed and was therefore unable to distinguish right from wrong.
The trial also heard from Dr. Joel Paris, a psychiatrist who saw Magnotta approximately one month before Lin was killed. He did not see signs of schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, but did diagnose Magnotta with borderline personality disorder because of his difficult relationships, compulsive behaviour, and mood swings.
A key Crown witness was British journalist Alex West, who met with Magnotta in December, 2011, to discuss cat-killing videos posted online. Magnotta sent West an email shortly after that meeting to say that the cat slayings would be followed with the filmed murder of a human being.
“Next time you hear from me it will be in a movie I am producing, that will have some humans in it, not just pussys. :)” Magnotta wrote in the email sent Dec. 10, 2011. “You see, killing is different then smoking.. with smoking you can actually quit,” he wrote, in reference to the film “Basic Instinct.”
“Once you kill, and taste blood, its impossible to stop. The urge is just too strong not to continue,” he said elsewhere in the same email. “Getting away with all this, now thats genius.”
Lin was killed less than six months later.
Before he left Canada, Magnotta mailed some of Lin's body parts to people across Canada, including the federal Conservative Party's Ottawa headquarters. The prime minister's deputy chief of staff, Jenni Byrne, testified that her office received a package containing Lin's foot. That package was never opened -- an aide noticed a strong odour, and Byrne told the aide to call 911.
Bouthillier said he’s not concerned about Magnotta’s lawyers appealing the case.
“When it happens, we’ll deal with it,” he said.
The Crown prosecutor and the judge hailed the jurors for their handling of the case.
“I want to salute the work of the jury,” Bouthillier said. “Individually, the 12 jurors were really magnificent and they did an outstanding job.”
Quebec Superior Court Justice Guy Cournoyer quoted Sir Winston Churchill in his praise for the jury.
“While it may not always be obvious to everyone, a jury trial is one of the most unfailing tests of the civilization of any country,” he told the jury in court. “Your patience, seriousness and hard work has been obvious to us all and exemplary in a very demanding trial.”
In a statement released after the verdict was announced, Justice Minister Peter MacKay said the government is “grateful to the judge, justice officials and jurors who worked diligently to arrive at this decision today.
“This was a horrific and complex case. Our heartfelt sympathy goes out to the victims' family who lost their son,” he said.
With files from The Canadian Press