MONTREAL (Reuters) – A Canadian admitted in court on Monday that he killed a Chinese student and mailed body parts to Canadian political parties and schools but his lawyer said the defendant was schizophrenic and therefore not criminally responsible.
Laying out the government’s case, the prosecutor said evidence would show that Luka Magnotta, 32, started planning to kill a human being and make a movie of it at least six months before the 2012 killing of Chinese student Jun Lin, 33, in Montreal.
A publication ban imposed by the court at a preliminary hearing barred media from reporting certain details of the case. Explicit details were publicised during the international search to capture Magnotta, but cannot be repeated. The jury was not being sequestered.
Magnotta is charged with the first-degree murder of Lin and with committing indignities to Lin’s body and broadcasting obscene material. He is accused of dismembering Lin and mailing body parts to Canadian political parties and to two elementary schools, news of which horrified Canadians and garnered headlines around the world. Magnotta admitted to the acts underlying the five offences he is charged with, including killing Lin, but he pleaded not guilty to each charge.
“A person is not responsible if he or she suffers from a mental disorder at the time of the act,” defence lawyer Luc Leclair told the jury.
Wearing black pants and a grey sweater, Magnotta stood beside Leclair behind a glass panel in the tiny Montreal courtroom and responded “not guilty” as each of the five charges was read by the court clerk.
Prosecutor Louis Bouthillier said an alleged email from Magnotta to a journalist in 2011, some six months before the killing, indicates Lin’s murder was planned and deliberate.
“It is our position that this email makes it clear that Mr Magnotta planned to kill a human being and make a movie,” he said.
Defence lawyer Leclair said Magnotta had been seen for years by different psychiatrists, and that he had been diagnosed in Montreal in 2012 with having a borderline personality disorder. Other psychiatrists have diagnosed him with schizophrenia, Leclair said. Surveillance images from Magnotta’s apartment building in Montreal in 2012 showed him walking with Lin, an engineering student and convenience store clerk, Bouthillier said.
“These images from the surveillance cameras are the last images of Jun Lin alive,” the prosecutor added. “Mr. Jun Lin’s head was later found in Angrignon Park about a month after his death.”