WATCH: At the Luka Magnotta trial today, the jury was shown handwritten notes Magnotta mailed across the country, along with the body parts of the victim. Mike Armstrong reports.
Warning: The following article contains graphic language and details.
MONTREAL — In a small Montreal courtroom Tuesday, 14 jurors were taken through the grisly discovery of a severed head, a splattered crime scene and four parcels containing gift-wrapped body parts and threatening notes — one addressing the prime minister and his wife.
The jurors in the murder trial of Luka Magnotta heard from three members of the Montreal police Tuesday who each presented lengthy series of photographs depicting scenes, many of which were known to exist if not ever actually seen.
What was revealed on Day 2 of the trial were the particulars of the four packages Magnotta sent through Canada Post to the federal Conservative and Liberal parties in Ottawa and to two Vancouver schools, detailed through photos presented by the Crown’s first witness, Caroline Simoneau.
The defence counsel revealed yesterday Magnotta admitted to committing the crimes and intends to argue Magnotta is not criminally responsible on account of suffering from schizophrenia. As a result, the Crown is faced with proving to the jury Magnotta planned his crimes months in advance and was of sound mind when he killed 33-year-old Jun Lin in May 2012.
Threatening hand-written notes
Inside the boxes sent to Ottawa, the notes, hand-written on small pieces of purple paper misspelled the name of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s wife, Laureen, and used her maiden name, Teskey.
“Stephen Harper and Lauren (sic) Teskey will know who this is. They f***** up big time,” read one note, with a black heart coloured in at the bottom.
The blood-stained parcels sent to the Vancouver schools also contained pink gift-style tissue paper and notes written on the same sort of purple paper. “Die b****! Soon!” read one. “Roses are red. Violets are blue. The police will need dental records to identify you. B****,” the other read.
GALLERY: Photos of the notes presented as evidence during the second day of the Luka Magnotta trial.
The return addresses on each box were different, including one from Longueuil, Que., another from Gatineau, Que. and one from St. Catharines, Ont.
On Monday, Simoneau went through almost 160 photos she took in the days following the killing. They included photos from outside the apartment building in which Magnotta lived and killed Lin. Specifically, the photos gave an elaborate account of the police discovering the suitcase in which Lin’s torso was locked and the many items contained in black plastic garbage bags piled on the curb.
Those items mostly consisted of inanimate objects — tools, knives and scissors, latex gloves, clothing and documents bearing Magnotta’s name. Inside one bag, however, was a small, dead black dog. Inside others were human body parts, some wrapped in several garbage bags.
During the cross-examination of her testimony Tuesday, Magnotta’s defence counsel asked Simoneau to verify that the suitcase and garbage bags were all in plain view on the street, not hidden. She agreed that was the case.
Luc Leclair then proceeded to have Simoneau remove many of the inanimate objects, mostly clothing and documents, from evidence bags. He often took the items from her, walked them over to the jury and held them up. His intentions and strategy were not clear.
‘Reddish’ substance splattered and pooled
Simoneau’s colleague, Chantal Turmel, took the stand in the late morning to show the photos she had taken of the crime scene in the Montreal apartment Magnotta had been renting. The pictures taken before the small, dank bachelor apartment was cleaned showed splatters, pools and smudges of a “reddish” substance throughout — in the bathroom sink, bath and floor, on the bed, the heater and kitchen table.
Through another series of photos, a third Montreal police officer called to the stand took the jury along an outdoor path leading to the discovery of the victim’s head, laying decayed and unrecognizable on the ground among tall plants in a Montreal park.
On Monday, the Crown said they intend to call the victim’s boyfriend, who has travelled from China, this week.
Proceedings were barely underway Monday when the jury heard Magnotta admitted to committing the acts of which he is accused, but his defence argued he’s not criminally responsible because he was mentally unhinged at the time.\
More than two years have passed since the gruesome killing of Lin, a Concordia University student, gripped Canada and the world when the search for Magnotta turned into an international manhunt.
Magnotta was apprehended in Germany on June 4, days after Lin was brutally killed.
WATCH: Domenic Fazioli looks ahead to what we can expect from the defence and prosecution in the Luka Magnotta trial
Not guilty, not criminally responsible pleas
Magnotta faces five charges including first-degree murder, 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.
He pleaded not guilty to all charges Monday, leaning forward five times from his seat in a large and secure prisoner’s box to utter the words “not guilty” after each charge was read out loud.
Quebec Superior Court Justice Guy Cournoyer revealed the defence counsel and their client agreed to the facts of the case — that Lin was killed, beheaded and dismembered, that the slaying was videotaped and posted online and that body parts were either discarded in the garbage or mailed to Ottawa and Vancouver.
READ MORE: Not criminally responsible myths, debunked
During his opening statement, Magnotta’s defence lawyer, Leclair, said his client was not criminally responsible, as he suffers from mental illness. He said Magnotta was diagnosed with schizophrenia. In a 2005 letter made public last year, a psychiatrist made the same diagnosis and warned Magnotta’s symptoms could recur if he didn’t take his medication.
Leclair told the jury it would hear from and read medical records from a number of health professionals Magnotta had encountered over several years. The evidence, Leclair said, will corroborate the mental illness plea. He said Magnotta suffers from schizophrenia, the same disease from which his father suffers.
Crown to prove intent and plans
Crown prosecutor Louis Bouthillier, meanwhile, said he will present evidence to prove Magnotta’s crime was intentional and premeditated for months. That will include evidence from Montreal police who investigated the crime scene and interviewed the janitor who found parts of Lin’s body, footage from the video camera used to record Lin’s death and DNA.
Surveillance video from the Montreal building where Magnotta was renting an apartment show the last images of Lin alive, Bouthillier told the jury.
Both Bouthillier and the trial judge warned the jury it would have to see and hear graphic evidence. That includes the infamous video depicting the dismemberment and indignities committed against Lin’s body.
The Crown revealed that video, of which portions were edited and posted online, contains almost one minute of footage showing another man bound to the bed in much the same way Lin was, but alive.
Fourteen jurors are hearing the case, though only 12 will take part in the final deliberation. Cournoyer said he will select those 12 by picking numbers at random.
Lin’s father spent much of Monday and Tuesday in a room adjacent the court room with a translator who has been by his side since the preliminary hearings, his lawyer and two volunteer translators — Chinese students getting their Masters of law in Montreal.