Luka Magnotta guilty of first-degree murder, sentenced to life in prison
WATCH ABOVE: A jury in Montreal has found Luka Magnotta guilty of first-degree murder. The 32-year-old killed Chinese student Jun Lin in May 2012. His lawyer argued Magnotta was suffering from a mental disorder, but the jury didn’t buy it. Mike Armstrong reports.
MONTREAL – A jury found Luka Magnotta guilty of five charges on Tuesday, including the first-degree murder of Jun Lin. The court sentenced him to life in prison for murder and handed Magnotta the maximum sentences for all other charges.
The 12 jurors were into their eighth day of deliberations when word came they’d delivered an envelope to the court.
Magnotta sat upright in the prisoner box, the same spot he’d occupied throughout the 10 weeks of witness testimony, shackled and wearing a down coat. The lawyers were in their respective spots, opposite the wide, wooden desk from each other.
Everyone awaited Quebec Superior Court Justice Guy Cournoyer’s entrance.
READ MORE: Timeline of the Luka Magnotta case
After the eight women and four men who’d spent eight nights sequestered emerged from the jury room, juror number nine, a community college professor dressed in a jacket and tie, stood to read the verdicts.
Magnotta left his chair, standing to hear what the jury had decided for his future.
“Guilty,” the foreman repeated after the court clerk read out each of the five charges.
On top of first-degree murder, police charged Magnotta with committing an indignity to a human body, publishing obscene material, criminally harassing Prime Minister Stephen Harper and other members of Parliament, and mailing obscene and indecent material.
After the verdict, the lawyer representing Lin’s family asked for a brief recess to allow time for the father, who was at the courthouse for every day of testimony and deliberations, to call his wife and daughter who were back in China.
The Lawyer then read an emotional victim impact statement from Lin’s father in court. “In one night, we lost a lifetime of hope, our futures, parts of our past,” he said. “We do not want to tell our story because it is too sad to repeat. We cannot talk much about Lin Jun without talking about his murder. The murder has robbed us not only of Lin Jun but our ability to think and talk about him without feeling pain and shame.”
In accordance with Canadian law, Magnotta will serve life in prison without a chance of parole for at least 25 years for the murder.
And, “due to the exceptional circumstances of this case,” Cournoyer said, the court imposed the maximum sentences on all charges, totalling 19 years.
The law also compelled the trial judge to ask the defendant whether he would like to say anything about the trial, verdict or sentence.
In a barely audible voice, Magnotta simply said, “No, your honour.”
Speaking to reporters later Tuesday, the Lin family lawyer said Magnotta missed his opportunity to express any remorse or offer an apology for his crimes — a key reason the father, Diran Lin, lived in Canada throughout the trial.
WATCH: Jun Lin’s family relieved following guilty verdict
“This doesn’t give him closure. This doesn’t give him pleasure,” the lawyer, speaking on behalf of Diran Lin, the victim’s father, said of the verdict. “This doesn’t bring his son back.”
Demonstrating his compassion, Diran Lin, who was unable to hold back his tears, also asked the lawyer to tell reporters he holds no animosity toward Magnotta’s father.
“From one father to another,” the lawyer said, “he does not blame you … he respects your decision to testify.”
Throughout the trial, defence lawyer Luc Leclair sought to convince the jury Magnotta was in a state of psychosis, the result of severe mental illness, when he killed and dismembered 33-year-old Lin in May 2012.
After the courtroom was closed and the case wrapped, Leclair said his client, who he maintains is paranoid schizophrenic, was disappointed with the verdict but, at the same time, relieved.
WATCH: Magnotta’s lawyer calls criticism of mental health defence ‘Un-Canadian’
The defendant put his future in the hands of a jury, Leclair said. “He accepts the verdict.”
Although the trial has concluded, Magnotta could appeal the decision.
“Mr. Magnotta will take the time to look at the merits and grounds for an appeal. And there are some,” Leclair said. “Today is not the day to discuss them.”
Crown prosecutor Louis Bouthillier, meanwhile, argued the defendant planned the deliberate killing and should be found guilty of all five charges.
“I felt great, but that’s what I was expecting,” Bouthillier said of hearing the jurors’ verdicts, speaking to reporters minutes after the verdict had been read.
WATCH: Crown prosecutor says he expected Magnotta guilty verdict
The prosecutor said although the case was challenging, he never had a doubt the jury would find Magnotta guilty — especially considering the defendant did not testify during the trial.
“No one could attest to the accused’s state of mind at the time of the crime except him,” he said. “Without taking the stand, the jury had little to consider on the matter.”
WATCH: Defence couldn’t prove Magnotta’s mental state at time of murder, Crown says
Several defence psychiatrists testified Magnotta was schizophrenic and was in a state of psychosis when he killed Lin; others, testifying for the prosecution, have said Magnotta had a personality disorder and had the capacity to know the difference between right and wrong on that fateful night in Montreal.
READ MORE: What is Not Criminally Responsible?
During Cournoyer’s final instructions to the jury last Monday, he told the jurors to use their “collective common sense” to decide how much or how little weight to apply to the testimony of each witness — 66 of which were heard throughout 40 days of presenting evidence.
The jury had four options for a verdict on the murder charge: guilty of first-degree murder, second-degree murder, manslaughter, or not criminally responsible because of mental disorder.
Following the verdict, Cournoyer spent several minutes thanking the members of the jury.
“We’ve asked a lot of you and you rose to the occasion and indeed proved that real and substantive justice is a reality in action,” he said, praising their patience, seriousness and hard work.
“While it may not always be obvious to everyone, a jury trial is one of the most unfailing tests of a civilized country.”
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