A Court of Quebec Judge has ordered Luka Magnotta to stand trial for first-degree murder in the death of Concordia University student Jun Lin in May 2012.
Magnotta will also be tried on four other charges, including causing indignity to Lin’s body, broadcasting obscene material, using the postal service to send obscene material and harassment of Prime Minister Stephen Harper and other members of Parliament.
A trial date will be set on April 29.
Last year, the 30-year-old Ontario native pleaded not guilty and opted for trial before a judge and jury.
The weeks-long preliminary inquiry in the case wrapped up earlier today at the Montreal courthouse. Evidence presented at that hearing cannot be published because of a court-ordered ban.
Judge Lori Renée Weitzman, who heard from more than 30 witnesses in recent weeks, has ruled there is enough evidence to proceed to trial in the case.
Earlier this week, Magnotta’s lawyer told the court that if his client is ordered to stand trial, it should be on a lesser charge.
Luc Leclair, who is representing Magnotta, told the judge that the Crown must show that the killing was both planned and deliberate for a charge of first-degree.
He said based on his analysis, the judge cannot conclude the evidence presented at the hearing justifies that charge.
If Luka Rocco Magnotta is ordered to stand trial, it should be on a charge of second-degree murder and not first-degree, one of his lawyers said Monday.
Luc Leclair told court he intends to make final arguments to that effect later this week as Magnotta’s preliminary inquiry wraps up.
Magnotta, 30, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Chinese engineering student Jun Lin. He has pleaded not guilty and opted for trial before a judge and jury. A trial likely wouldn’t be heard until 2014.
The Crown says only one more witness might appear at the hearing. After closing arguments, a judge will have to decide whether Magnotta’s case should be sent to trial.
On Monday, the proceedings resumed after a two-week break. Witnesses included Montreal’s Dong Dong Xu, a man described as a good friend of Lin’s, as wel as people who appeared from Vancouver via a video link.
Xu answered questions from Crown and defence lawyers as Magnotta listened impassively.Xu, 30, attempted to have a publication ban placed on his identity, but the judge dismissed the request.
The Vancouver witnesses included a Canada Post employee and a police constable.
Also, the court heard from two witnesses each from St-George’s School, an all-boys school, and two from False Creek Elementary School. Both are located in Vancouver.
More than 30 witnesses have been heard so far. Prosecutor Louis Bouthillier only plans to call one more, from France. However, it remained nebulous whether the individual would be called.
Testimony from witnesses who were expected to testify via video link from Germany has been cancelled. The defence says it won’t hear any witnesses.
None of the evidence can be published because of a court-ordered ban.
In addition to first-degree murder, 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 father attended the brief afternoon hearing.
Quebec court Judge Lori-Renee Weitzman is hearing the case. Any trial would take place in Quebec Superior Court.
Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press
A close friend of Jun Lin testifying Monday at the preliminary hearing of Luka Magnotta asked that his name not be made public because he is “between jobs.”
But Quebec Court Judge Lori-Renée Weitzman rejected the request from Dong Dong Xu, 30, the 26th witness to testify at the hearing as it resumed Monday after a one-week break.
A publication ban still remains in effect on all the evidence heard at the preliminary hearing – a routine order from the court at this stage of the proceedings.
As has been the case since the hearing began March 11, many spectators lined up early in order to get one of 24 seats reserved for spectators.
The hearing resumes this afternoon with witnesses from Vancouver, who will testify via video conference. Witnesses from Europe are scheduled to testify Tuesday.
Magnotta, 30, faces four charges in connection with the May 25 death of 33-year-old Chinese national Lin, including causing an indignity to a body, producing and distributing obscene material and sending obscene material through the postal system. He was arrested in June in an Internet café in Berlin and brought back to Canada on a private flight.
Once all the evidence has been presented, Weitzman will rule on whether the case can be sent to trial. If so, Magnotta will be tried some time next year in Quebec Superior Court by a judge and jury.
A document released late last night shows Luka Magnotta was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia as a teenager.
A Toronto judge approved the release of the document concerning Magnotta’s medical history.
The letter was submitted as evidence when Magnotta was facing fraud charges in 2005. At the time, he was going by his birth name — Eric Clinton Newman.
The letter was from a Toronto-area psychiatrist who had been treating him for five years.
The psychiatrist said he knew of two recent occasions when Newman was admitted to hospital as an inpatient.
Media fought to make document public.
The letter was released after several media outlets fought for it to be made public.
A Globe and Mail reporter had been trying to obtain the letter, a public document, since July, but was rebuffed in several attempts.
Various media outlets then joined together to hire counsel to make arguments to a judge for the letter’s release.
Magnotta’s lawyer Luc Leclair tried to stop the letter from becoming public, but Ontario Court Judge Fergus O’Donnell ruled Tuesday afternoon that it should be released.
In his ruling, O’Donnell said the document does contain sensitive and personal medical information, but any privacy interest was forgone when the letter was filed in open court.
In 2005, Magnotta was prescribed five different medications, including two antipsychotic drugs, Seroquel and Risperdal, to treat his disorder. He was also prescribed an anti-anxiety medication, a night sedative and a drug to counteract unwanted side-effects from his antipsychotic medication.
“Without access to the letter, the public is not in a position to engage in a meaningful assessment or debate over the appropriateness of what happened to Mr. Newman in 2005 in what is supposed to be an open and transparent court process,” O’Donnell wrote.
A top confidante to Prime Minister Stephen Harper testified at a preliminary hearing for accused killer Luka Magnotta as it wrapped up Thursday before a two-week break.
Several witnesses came from Ottawa to testify including Jenni Byrne, who has served the prime minister in senior roles in his office and in the Conservative party.
Magnotta, accused of first-degree murder in the killing and dismemberment of engineering student Jun Lin, has pled not guilty to all charges and chose trial by jury.
Magnotta is facing five counts including the murder charge: 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.
Byrne, who is now the director of political operations for the federal Conservative party, testified in a Montreal courtroom as the hearing entered its ninth day. She delivered her account matter-of-factly, with no display of emotion.
Magnotta, meanwhile, sat impassively and listened. He was shackled and seated in his fortified prisoner’s box in the high-security courtroom … Evidence presented at the preliminary hearing is subject to a publication ban. The hearing is to determine whether there is enough evidence to send Magnotta to trial.
Byrne’s brief appearance came as a group of Ottawa-based witnesses testified. They included two Ottawa police officers and a Canada Post inspector.
Witnesses were heard through mid-day Thursday, when the hearing adjourned until April 8. Witnesses from Europe, Vancouver and Montreal are scheduled to be heard after the pause.
Police witnesses have made up the bulk of the two dozen people to testify so far.
The court has also heard from a journalist from the United Kingdom, two Montreal apartment building employees, a number of Canada Post employees and a trio of medical experts.
Magnotta collapsed in court this week after watching video evidence. He has appeared to be wiping away tears at times and has often held his hand to his mouth during testimony.
Both the Crown and the defence told Judge Lori-Renee Weitzman that one more week in April should be enough time to complete the hearing.
The hearings have produced some bizarre twists.
The defence tried to have the public and media barred altogether from the proceedings, but the judge rejected the request.
Then a member of Magnotta’s legal team withdrew from the case after the Crown raised the possibility of a conflict of interest.
The family of the victim has travelled to Montreal for the hearings but has attended them only sporadically.
A family lawyer said Jun Lin’s father, mother and sister have come from China, at considerable cost, in order to honour their relative’s memory and follow the proceedings.
Jun Lin, 33, was his only son.
Lawyers for the Lin family, working pro bono, have attended on their behalf.
Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press
Luka Magnotta’s preliminary hearing will wrap up Thursday with two witnesses from Ottawa before resuming again for a week in April.
For the second day in a row, Magnotta cupped his hand over his mouth, wiped his eyes and glanced only occasionally at a screen on which video evidence was projected. Yesterday, he collapsed in the prisoner’s box at the end of a video.
Wearing an unbuttoned, short-sleeved plaid shirt with a white undershirt and white pants, a shackled and handcuffed Magnotta listened to testimony Wednesday from three Montreal police officers who specialize in extracting digital information from cameras, computers, cellphones and online.
Constable Nadine Paoliello wrapped up her testimony, which was interrupted Tuesday when Magnotta collapsed and the hearing was adjourned for the day. Sgt.-Det. Panagiotis Sarganis, a computer forensic specialist from the Montreal police force, also testified, as did Constable Frank Massa. Several videos were shown throughout the morning.
No details about the evidence can be reported because of a court-ordered publication ban, a normal procedure during a preliminary hearing — a process to determine whether there is enough evidence for the case to go to trial.
Yesterday, Magnotta waved and smiled at a woman sitting in the front row of the packed courtroom, but the woman refused to identify herself to the media or say what her relationship to the accused is.
Witnesses from Vancouver and Europe are to testify by video conference starting April 8, the last week of the preliminary hearing.
Luka Magnotta collapsed in court during his preliminary hearing while appearing distraught by the evidence presented against him today.
The notorious suspect in a killing-and-dismemberment case was suddenly lying on his right side, crumpled into a fetal position … Magnotta was still handcuffed and shackled.
“You might want to make room for an ambulance,” the Crown prosecutor, Louis Bouthillier, told the guards outside the courtroom … somebody’s collapsed.
His lawyers came to check in on him, and gazed at Magnotta across the glass-enclosed defendant’s box in the special high-security courtroom where the case is being heard.
The collapse happened while Magnotta took in 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.
It wasn’t immediately clear whether Magnotta left the court in an ambulance. What was announced … was that Magnotta would not be back in court for the 2 p.m. afternoon session, and the hearing was suspended for the rest of the day.
He really doesn’t feel well and he’s not able to continue … Magnotta lawyer Luc Leclair told the court.
Judge Lori-Renée Weitzman said they could not continue without Magnotta present and ordered the case suspended until Wednesday morning … Leclair said he believes his client will be fine with a little bit of rest.
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.
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.
About 10 minutes into that part of the hearing, Magnotta turned to the bailiff next to him and asked him to convey 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 Luka Magnotta stood up and collapsed to the floor.
The preliminary hearing for Luka Magnotta finished earlier than usual today after the relatively short testimony of six witnesses, including a forensic pathologist, a dentist and a Canada Post employee.
The longest testimony was from Yann Dazé, a forensic pathologist who has participated in 800 autopsies in his career, followed by Catherine Lavallée, a forensic toxicologist who examines organs for traces of drugs, and dentist Sachin Paranjape. The last witness before the lunch break was Marie Josée Perron, a forensic odontologist, who analyzes dental remains.
Magnotta sat in the prisoner’s box today, his eyes closed as documents were shown on a screen. By the afternoon, he was wearing a dark blue ski jacket with the collar pulled up around his neck. At times, he appeared to be dozing off.
Several people, including law students, showed up hours before the courtroom door opened to watch the proceedings, now in its second week. There are only 24 seats available, nine of which are reserved for journalists.
In the afternoon, Tomo Kazu Le, a Canada Post employee, as well as René Tremblay, an assistant manager from a Jean Coutu pharmacy in Côte des Neiges, testified.
Crown prosecutor Louis Bouthillier said he will call five more witnesses from Montreal, as well as some from Ottawa and Vancouver and two from Europe. The preliminary hearing, which is a procedure to determine if there is enough evidence to go to trial, is to last this week as well as the week of April 8.
The media will be able to publicize the evidence and proceedings during the trial.
The janitor who worked at Luka Magnotta’s building when the grisly murder occurred, took the stand at the accused murderer’s preliminary hearing today.
Michael Nadeau appeared somewhat nervous as Crown attorney Louis Bouthillier questioned him.
At one point during the janitor’s testimony, Magnotta’s face turned red and he dabbed his eyes, bowed his head and rested his head on his chin.
A publication ban prevents the media from reporting on the evidence that provoked the reaction from Luka Magnotta.
Evidence by bloodstain analyst Jacinthe Prevost prompted the victim’s father to leave his seat and walk unsteadily out of the packed courtroom, propped up by his lawyer and a translator.
Quebec court Judge Lori-Renee Weitzman watched the scene with an expression of concern, but testimony continued on. Diran Lin returned but he later left the room a second time in tears.
A young man who bears a resemblance to Magnotta has been in the courtroom this week, identifying himself as Kyle from Raleigh, N.C.
The slightly-built, boyish-looking man with sharp features and short brown hair says he drove 1,400 km over three days to watch the hearing.
He sat in the seat closest to Magnotta in the public gallery, gazing at him several times … Luka Magnotta did not return his gaze.
Yesterday, Judge Weitzman asked defence lawyer Luc Leclair and his colleagues to consider the conflict of interest issue. After a break, Leclair only managed to say a few words before falling back into his chair … and seriously now … breaking down in tears.
The judge then ordered bailiffs to clear the courtroom so Leclair could get a grip on himself.
Today … Magnotta dabbed his eyes as a piece of evidence was shown, but it wasn’t clear if the alleged killer actually shed any tears. As a homicide detective made her presentation, Magnotta lifted his hand to one eye, then the other … however, it was difficult to see if his eyes were watering … he later covered his mouth several times during her testimony.
Two Montreal homicide detectives and a police computer analyst took the stand during today’s testimony.
A British journalist who once interviewed Magnotta was surprised to receive a subpoena … Alex West, from the Sun in London, England, spoke to Luka Magnotta in December 2011 while the accused killer was living in Britain, and yesterday he was told … today he would be taking the stand.
Prosecutor Louis Bouthillier asked West a question at which point the witness looked directly at Magnotta when he responded … however, Luka Magnotta didn’t flinch … he looked straight back at him.
Magnotta’s defence team twice showed frustration with Quebec Court Judge Lori-Renee Weitzman. Attorney Luc Leclair objected to a piece of evidence at one point, raising his voice before plopping down in his chair … then later in the afternoon Magnotta’s other lawyer, Pierre Panacchio, appeared to lose patience with the judge during a request … also raising his voice while he abruptly walked away.
Judge Lori-Renee Weitzman has dismissed all of the defence’s motions, and most of their many objections, during the first four days of court ptoceedings.