Warning: The following story contains graphic language and details.
MONTREAL — Feng Lin left Montreal in May 2012 – days before his lover Jun Lin was bound to a bed, killed and dismembered by another man, a Montreal court heard Wednesday.
Questioning from the two sides of the court revealed two distinct descriptions of the friend Feng lost.
Answers to the Crown’s questioning on the third day of Luka Magnotta’s murder trial evoked images of a healthy, gentle man. One who neither drank much nor took drugs, who went to the gym three or four times per week and loved his boyfriend dearly — even though he kept his parents in the dark about his relationship and sexuality.
When Magnotta’s lawyer began his cross-examination, however, the jury heard of a man who watched hardcore pornography and engaged in casual sex.
Two years ago, Feng and Jun, both Chinese nationals, had decided to put their relationship on hold and try to be friends, said Feng.
“He was my lover,” Feng said through a translator when Crown prosecutor Louis Bouthillier asked him to describe the relationship. But that ended around the time Feng left Montreal to return to China, he said.
Jun’s family was pressuring him to marry a woman, Feng said in response to Bouthiller’s questions. They did not know he was gay.
A final text message
For an hour, Feng related a harrowing tale of losing touch with Jun. It was all the more worrisome given their habit of texting each other more than 40 times every day after Feng moved back to China.
Listen below: Reporter Amy Minsky reporting from Montreal courthouse before Feng took the stand
The last message Feng received from Jun wished him a good morning, sent from Montreal around midnight on May 24, 2012. With the time difference, Jun would know Feng was getting ready for his day.
Feng responded, but his message was read but never returned, he told the court Wednesday. Over the following days, he would send more texts. Those would go unread.
He then got in touch with friends, asking one to go to specific places to try to find Jun.
Without any sight or sound from his friend and former lover, Feng said he decided to travel back to Montreal from Shanghai, scheduled to arrive on May 30.
During a stopover en route, he saw news online of a killing and a body in Montreal but didn’t draw a connection.
Feng told the court he saw the gruesome video, now infamous, that had been posted online and depicted the beheading and dismemberment of a man bound to a bed. He watched the first few minutes but was certain the man in the video was not Jun.
Since Magnotta, 32, admitted Monday to committing the acts of which he is accused, the defence is tasked with building a case that Magnotta was so psychologically sick he wasn’t in control of his actions during Jun’s killing and dismembering — or any of the other actions leading to the four charges he faces in addition to first degree. The Crown, meanwhile, is focussing on proving premeditation and intent.
While cross-examining Feng, Leclair presented evidence including screen grabs from an iPhone app for gay, bisexual and “curious” men; a list of items downloaded to the victim’s computer; knowledge that Jun had been caught plagiarizing while at Concordia University; and contents of some chats the victim had with other men.
The questioning lasted close to two hours. Leclair listed titles of pornographic movies downloaded to Jun’s computer, some that included scenes of bondage and sadomasochism. Feng said they didn’t have a sadomasochistic relationship, that he and Jun never even discussed that sort of sex.
Still, Leclair pulled out a booklet of coloured photos taken from the movies to show the witness. Early into the presentations, however, Feng seemed exasperated and asked whether he really had to look at them. The judge ruled he did not.
Leclair asked whether the couple visited a particular gay bar in Montreal and inquired about a French Canadian they may have met there. Though Feng said they had gone to the bar, he didn’t recall the man Leclair mentioned.
Leclair then, however, suggested Jun Skyped and had sex with the French Canadian, Emile Lacroix, on May 19 — six days after Feng left Canada.
“We were split then. He had all his freedom,” Feng said through his translator, later indicating he’s confident Jun was faithful while they were a couple.
During cross-examination, it was revealed that Feng paid rent on the apartment he shared with Jun, and sometimes paid for food. Leclair repeatedly asked exactly why and when the couple split. Feng couldn’t offer a precise date, saying it was more of an organic parting based on the pressure Jun was getting from his family.
Leclair disputed this, suggesting they broke up because Jun found Feng too controlling. Feng swiftly denied the claim, saying it was “absolutely not true.”
The defence had earlier cross-examined on one Crown witness, Montreal forensics expert Caroline Simoneau.
Threatening, vulgar notes
On Tuesday, Simoneau showed the jury details of what was contained in four parcels Magnotta sent through Canada Post to the federal Liberal and Conservative parties in Ottawa and to two Vancouver-area schools. The boxes contained pink tissue paper usually used to wrap gifts and handwritten notes. The parcels were known to contain a body part each — Lin’s hands and feet.
Inside the boxes sent to Ottawa, two notes, hand-written on small pieces of purple paper, addressed Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s wife using her maiden name, Teskey. Another addressed them both, Simoneau showed.
One note inside a blood-stained parcel sent to a Vancouver school read, “Die, b****! Soon!” Another note read, “Roses are red. Violets are blue. The police will need dental records to identify you. B****.”
The jury also heard from the Crown’s second and third witnesses on Tuesday, two other members of the Montreal police.
One photographed Magnotta’s rental apartment where Lin was killed.
GALLERY: Court sketches from the trial, jury selection and preliminary hearings for Magnotta
Through her photos, the jury saw a dank, bachelor apartment with pools, splatters and smudges of a “reddish” substance throughout — on the kitchen counters and inside the fridge, on the bathroom sink and the shower curtain, on the heater and the mattress.
The Crown’s third witness used his photographs to take the jury along a path in the Montreal park where Lin’s head was discovered, laying decayed and unrecognizable on the ground among tall plants in a Montreal park.
Pleaded not criminally responsible
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.
Magnotta faces five charges including first-degree murder, committing an indignity to a human body, publishing obscene material, criminally harassing 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.
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.