MONTREAL – Luka Rocco Magnotta remained impassive as one of the 12 jurors who deliberated his fate uttered the word “guilty” to all five charges against him in the slaying and dismemberment of Jun Lin, including first-degree murder.
“It’s always a great feeling for a Crown prosecutor to hear the word ‘guilty’ come out of the mouth of a juror at the end of a trial,” prosecutor Louis Bouthillier told reporters.
“Obviously very rewarding.”
Bouthillier said he was fully expecting the jury to deliver the five guilty verdicts.
“We’re not really surprised,” he said. “I thought we had good evidence of premeditation and the fact that the crime was planned and deliberate.”
The prosecutor lauded the work of the jurors, who began hearing the case in late September and delivered the verdicts on their eighth day of deliberations.
“There was close to 11 weeks of testimony. Obviously they had to work with difficult, very difficult legal issues. I want to salute the work of the jury. Individually, the 12 jurors were really magnificent and they did an outstanding job.”
After the verdicts, a lawyer read out an impact statement on behalf of Lin’s father, Diran Lin, who watched proceedings throughout the trial from a private room in the courthouse.
“I had come to see your trial system to see justice done and I leave satisfied that you have not let my son down,” Daniel Urbas told the emotionally charged room.
“I had come to learn what happened to my son that night and I leave without a true or a complete answer.
“I had come to see remorse, to hear some form of apology, and I leave without anything.”
Earlier, the trial judge also had words of praise for the jurors.
“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,” Quebec Superior Court Justice Guy Cournoyer told them as he quoted Sir Winston Churchill.
“We have asked a lot of you but you rose to the occasion and indeed proved that real and substantive justice is a reality in action.
“Your patience, seriousness and hard work has been obvious to us all and exemplary in a very demanding trial.”
The other charges Magnotta was convicted of were criminally harassing Prime Minister Stephen Harper and other members of Parliament; mailing obscene and indecent material; committing an indignity to a body; and publishing obscene materials.
Magnotta, 32, was seeking to be found not criminally responsible of the May 2012 slaying by way of mental disorder, with experts testifying he was in a psychotic state the night of the killing and couldn’t tell right from wrong.
The Crown countered the crime was both planned and deliberate and that Magnotta’s behaviour and actions went against someone supposedly suffering from a disease of the mind.
As Magnotta had admitted to the physical acts, the jury’s task was to determine his state of mind and whether his acts were intentional, planned and deliberate.
The criminal case captured headlines worldwide in 2012 when the little-known porn actor and escort with an enormous Internet footprint became a household name after being linked to a horrific crime posted online.
His trial finally made it before a bilingual jury in Montreal, dominating much of the latter part of 2014.
On the murder charge, the jury had four options: find Magnotta guilty of first-degree murder, second-degree murder or manslaughter, or find him not criminally responsible by way of mental disorder.
The judge told the jurors in his instructions that if they deemed Magnotta not criminally responsible, that verdict should carry through to all five charges.
Bouthillier said the steps Magnotta took to hide his tracks and flee authorities were not consistent with someone who was in a debilitating mental state who didn’t understand his own actions.
That Magnotta would admit to the acts was only disclosed to the court just before the trial began. From the outset, the jury heard the accused admitted to the killing and dismembering but that he was suffering a disease of the mind at the time.
Through 10 weeks of testimony, the jury heard details of Lin’s death and that many of Magnotta’s actions were caught on surveillance video or in images taken by the accused himself.
They also heard about Magnotta’s upbringing and delved into medical files that showed he was diagnosed with schizophrenia in 2001.
Roughly half of the 40 days of testimony were dedicated to forensic psychiatrists who presented duelling versions of whether Magnotta was of sound mind during the crimes.
The key piece of evidence for the Crown was an email that described Magnotta’s macabre plan was actually telegraphed some six months before Lin’s slaying.
A British reporter, Alex West, confronted Magnotta in London in December 2011 about cat killing videos that had created a stir online. The accused denied being the author before saying in an email to West two days later that cats were just the beginning and that his next movie would include a human subject.
“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 near the end of the email, sent Dec. 10, 2011.
“You see, killing is different then smoking .. with smoking you can actually quit,” he wrote, one of the many references in the trial to the movie “Basic Instinct.”
Later in that message, he added: “Once you kill, and taste blood, its impossible to stop. The urge is just too strong not to continue.”
It concluded: “Getting away with all this, now thats genius.”
The Crown said the plan was set in motion in mid-May with the filming of a mystery Colombian man, asleep and naked on Magnotta’s bed while he straddled him with an electric saw in his hand.
Fifty-three seconds of that footage found its way into the “One Lunatic, One Ice Pick” video that shows Lin’s dismemberment.
The mystery man, drowsy but unharmed, left Magnotta’s apartment the next day with the help of the accused.
According to Magnotta, he met Lin through a Craigslist advertisement seeking a partner for bondage.
Lin arrived at Magnotta’s apartment at 10:16 p.m. on May 24, 2012, never to emerge again.
Four hours later, at 2:06 a.m., Magnotta was seen exiting the building wearing a distinctive yellow T-shirt Lin had been wearing when he walked in.
The evidence suggested that Lin had been drugged and had his throat slit. The murder itself was not caught on “One Lunatic, One Ice Pick.”
Magnotta’s face wasn’t visible in the 10-minute video in which Lin’s throat had already been slit.
The video showed Magnotta methodically dismembering the body — allowing a small dog to chew on the remains and violating the body with a wine bottle. The corpse was stabbed repeatedly and Lin’s skull was smashed in with a hammer.
The sleep drug Temazepam and Benadryl, an over-the-counter allergy medication were later found in Lin’s system.
The jury also saw the outtakes, found on a camera. In the final scene, Magnotta’s face was clearly visible as he attempted to masturbate to Lin’s severed arm.
In the roughly 48 hours following the slaying, Magnotta cut up Lin’s body into 10 pieces, mailing the hands and feet to political offices in Ottawa and primary schools in Vancouver. He also bought a plane ticket for Paris online.
He visited a garbage room in the basement of his apartment 16 times as he emptied the contents of his apartment. He often found time to check his appearance in the lobby as he came and went.
He returned at one point with a suitcase used to dispose of Lin’s torso. He slashed, spray-painted and locked the suitcase before leaving it on the curb.
The discovery of the suitcase set in motion the biggest Montreal police investigation in the force’s history and a manhunt for the accused.
By then, Magnotta had fled to Paris, switching hotels upon his arrival. When police put out a warrant for his arrest, Magnotta emptied his bank accounts and fled to Berlin on the same day.
He spent his last few days of freedom partying and drinking with a German man, having told him he was seeking a new start in life. He was ultimately arrested in an Internet cafe on June 4, 2012, where a witness said Magnotta was reading up on himself.
Magnotta was eventually transferred to a Berlin prison hospital, where a psychiatrist’s initial diagnosis was that he was psychotic.
The body parts were recovered in the trash outside Magnotta’s apartment and the four locations they were mailed. Lin’s skull was found in a west-end Montreal park on July 1, 2012 after a Toronto lawyer mailed directions to the body.
Packages to Ottawa contained notes referencing Harper and his wife Laureen. Three of the four packages mailed by Magnotta were linked to convicted schoolgirl killer Karla Homolka — the packages used the names of Homolka’s mother-in-law and sister as return addresses. The fourth packaged mentioned Jean Chretien’s son, Hubert, as the sender.
Magnotta did not testify during the trial and did not agree to be assessed by the Crown’s psychiatrist.
His version of events, given to defence psychiatrists, was never independently proven before the jury. He gave contradictory versions of the night’s events to the two psychiatrists who assessed him on behalf of the defence.
Magnotta told the psychiatrists he became convinced that Lin was a government agent sent to kill him and that voices in his head told him to commit the murder.
The jury heard Magnotta’s voice once, through a surreptitiously recorded interview by West. Otherwise, he kept his head low for most of the trial.
Defence lawyer Luc Leclair told the jury to dismiss the experts and to put themselves in the mind of someone suffering from schizophrenia. He told them to consult Magnotta’s voluminous medical records, which included a schizophrenia diagnosis dating back to 2001.
Crown experts countered that Magnotta’s schizophrenia diagnosis was erroneous and that he actually suffers from a variety of personality disorders, which are not mental illness.’
Bouthillier urged the jury to consider that Magnotta was “malingering,” a term used to describe the faking of symptoms.
He said the evidence clearly showed someone who was “purposeful, mindful, ultra-organized and ultimately responsible for his actions.”
Lin, 33, was born in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province. He had only been living in Canada since 2011, realizing a long-standing dream by coming to Montreal. Magnotta arrived in Montreal just months earlier in 2011.
The Crown suggested Lin was the perfect victim: he had few ties to Montreal and no immediate family in the country. At the time of his death, Lin was enrolled as an engineering student at Concordia University and worked as a part-time convenience store clerk in south-central Montreal.