Man found not criminally responsible for bus beheading seeks freedom
Published Monday, February 6, 2017 8:00AM EST
Last Updated Monday, February 6, 2017 9:52PM EST
The mother of a young man beheaded and cannibalized by a fellow bus passenger will find out in the next few days whether her son’s killer will be granted full freedom.
Will Baker, formerly known as Vince Li, is asking the Criminal Code Review Board for an absolute discharge, nearly eight years after he was found not criminally responsible for the gruesome 2008 murder of Tim McLean, 22, on a Greyhound bus in Manitoba.
“It’s deeply concerning to me because I believe that Vince Li, or Will Baker, is going to remain a threat to public safety,” McLean’s mother Carol de Delley told CTV News Channel on Monday.
If Baker is granted an absolute discharge, there will be no conditions placed on his freedom and no legal mechanism that would require him to treat his illness.
“I think it’s just a disaster waiting to happen.” De Delley said.
De Delley later told the review board that she believes Baker should never be “completely free.”
“If I had my way, he would remain in a facility,” she said. The review board is expected to release a written decision in the coming days.
Crown Attorney Mary Goska sided with de Delley, arguing to the board that an absolute discharge would pose too great of a risk to the public. “It’s clear that he can be dangerous in certain circumstances,” she said.
Baker, who was diagnosed with schizophrenia, was initially kept in a secure psychiatric facility in Selkirk, Man., but has gradually been granted more freedoms over the years.
He started living on his own last year, although a pharmacy employee continues to ensure that he takes his medications nightly, the review panel heard Monday.
Dr. Jeffrey Waldman, who has treated Baker, testified that although it took over a year for his “symptoms to be resolved completely” Baker is now a “low risk."
Dr. Waldman said that Baker understands his medication keeps his illness under control, although he admitted Baker could relapse if he is off medication for a prolonged period of time.
He recommended that Baker never stop seeing a psychiatrist.
Baker plans to stay in Winnipeg for two to three years and wants visit his native China, according to Dr. Waldman.
Chris Summerville, executive director of the Manitoba Schizophrenia Society, knows Baker. He said he has “complete confidence the individual will continue doing that which is in the best interest of not only his health but the safety of the public.”
In 1999, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that people who’ve been found not criminally responsible for their crimes must be given an absolute discharge if they don’t pose a significant threat to public safety.
Toronto criminal lawyer Christopher Hicks told CTV News Channel that due to Baker’s “major mental illness,” he does not expect an absolute discharge. He thinks the review board will likely grant Baker more freedoms, but keep some conditions in place “to govern his behaviour and support him in the community.”
De Delley told CTV News Channel that her focus is not punishing Baker for her son’s death, but ensuring public safety and pushing for better mental health care services.
“I don’t think punishment is the answer,” she said, adding that she is just “trying to take care” of her family and community by speaking out against Baker’s full release.
McLean was sitting next to Baker during the bus trip along the Trans-Canada Highway in July 2008 when Baker started stabbing him. Baker has said that he heard the voice of God telling him to kill McLean or "die immediately."
With files from The Canadian Press and CTV's Jill Macyshon in Winnipeg