Warning: The following story contains graphic language and details.
MONTREAL — Five cameras ran 24 hours a day in the building that became the scene of a grisly crime in May 2012, when Luka Magnotta killed Jun Lin in his dingy, second-floor bachelor apartment.
The surveillance tapes Montreal police investigators recovered from those cameras provide a haunting timeline of the hours and days that passed from the fateful moment Lin walked into the Montreal building with his killer.
Throughout the portion shown in court Thursday, Magnotta never appeared harried, but rather calm, moving slowly through the eye of each camera in different outfits, taking time to look at himself in the mirror and order pizza.
The first glimpse the jury saw of Magnotta on the tapes was recorded at 9:32 p.m. on May 24, 2012. He was dressed in a white shirt, walking toward the mail boxes next to the front doors. He seemed to lean for a moment on a wall, then went outside.
Less than an hour later, around 10:20, he was back with Lin. Lin wore a yellow t-shirt with shorts and a baseball cap. Magnotta held the door and entered behind Lin.
Then the tapes show no sign of either Magnotta or Lin for nearly four hours.
At 2:06, early in the morning of May 25, Magnotta walked the hall toward the front door of the building, now wearing a yellow t-shirt much like the one Lin had on hours earlier. When Magnotta returned seven minutes later, still wearing the yellow top, he checked out his reflection in the large mirrors covering two walls in the lobby, struck a couple of poses, then headed back toward his apartment.
From 2:47 to 4:31 a.m, the camera in the building’s basement, aimed at the two large, plastic drums where tenants toss their garbage, caught Magnotta dumping bags of junk, pillows, clothing and bottles in the drums over the course of several trips. On his way out, he would sometimes stop in his tracks, run his hands through his hair, then continue to the door.
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Shortly after 6 a.m., the building’s janitor went through the garbage and took out the recycling, apparently oblivious as to what he was carrying.
The cameras showed Magnotta leaving the building two hours later, wearing a tight top and a cap similar to the one Lin had the night before. Again, he checked himself out in the mirrors.
Crown witness Montreal police homicide investigator Claudette Hamlin presented the sequences Thursday. She said there are more than 100.
Over the next several hours of May 25, 2012, the cameras took footage of Magnotta leaving and entering the building a number of times, several times wearing the striped white and red tank top familiarized through his booking photo.
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He brought some plastic shopping bags into the building. He lugged some black garbage bags, appearing stretched from the weight of their contents, outside. The basement camera caught him back at the garbage bins, this time only to look at them, not dump anything in. When he saw the bags he’d left early that morning were gone, he briefly looked around the basement, then left.
The cameras also caught him coming back to the building that day with a large suitcase equipped with wheels and a handle — a suitcase that has become easily recognizable over the course of this trial, known now to eventually become Lin’s resting place the better part of a week.
The final footage the court saw Thursday were shot hours after Magnotta brought that suitcase into his apartment. The footage shows him getting off an elevator at 10:14 pm on May 25, hauling the same suitcase behind him, carelessly dragging it down three steps and out the front door. He returned two minutes later without the suitcase.
Hamlin told the court she was called to the apartment building on the morning of Tuesday, May 29, when the building’s janitor discovered a torso in a suitcase among some furniture the city’s garbage collectors hadn’t picked up the Friday before. Hamlin said investigators began going through the plastic garbage bags the janitor had brought out for collection that day, in search of any other body parts or tools that could have been used in the crime.
One of the dozens of bags searched included a piece of paper with “Luka Rocco Magnotta, 1982/07/24” written on it. Police finished inspecting the bags at 10:05 that night, having recovered that piece of paper, tools, bloody clothing, severed body parts and electronics. At the time they thought the torso was Magnotta’s, Hamlin said.
Then, news of a gruesome video posted online depicting the beheading and dismemberment of a man.
After watching the movie, Hamlin recounted, she recovered more items from the garbage previously thought inconsequential — a Casablanca poster and a wine bottle, both seen in the online snuff film. The police looked at the building’s surveillance video and the building manager confirmed the man seen walking in and out many times over was Magnotta. He was now the suspect.
It’s not known whether Magnotta knew there were cameras in the building. The building’s manager told the court he hadn’t pointed them out to Magnotta when showing him around the building.
Eric Schorer said he met Magnotta earlier in 2012 when the killer responded to an advertisement for the $490-a-month apartment.
He described Magnotta as a normal and cordial guy, dressed casually in jeans and a top. A guy who spoke with a deep voice and made eye contact during conversation.
Schorer’s testimony, given during the preliminary portion of Magnotta’s trial, and played for the jury from a recording over speakers: Schorer has since passed away.
Magnotta had told him he was interested in living in that area because he had a child nearby and a potential job as a caregiver, although he was unemployed at the time.
It is not known whether Magnotta actually has a child. Schorer said he never saw him with on.
Magnotta has admitted to killing 33-year-old Lin in May 2012, of cutting up his victim’s body, videotaping the act and posting it online. He’s admitted to then mailing some body parts, discarding others in garbage bags and stuffing Lin’s torso in a suitcase, leaving the items curb-side in Montreal before taking off for France, then Germany — where he was apprehended June 4.
But he has pleaded not guilty to the five charges he is facing as a result of those actions; his lawyer Luc Leclair is preparing to argue Magnotta was so psychologically ill he couldn’t grasp the severity of what he was doing.
While Leclair lays a foundation to argue insanity, he also must defend against the Crown’s prosecution hinging on premeditation and intent.
Perhaps the cross-examination on Wednesday of Lin’s former lover, Feng Lin, was a bid to demonstrate Lin willingly went over to Magnotta’s apartment for sex when Magnotta became unhinged and things went horribly wrong. Quebec Superior Court Judge Guy Cournoyer said something to that effect Thursday morning in an address to the 14 jurors, telling them they should use yesterday’s sometimes lewd testimony to help determine whether the crime was premeditated.
While questioning Feng Lin, Leclair presented Grindr, a network for gay, bisexual and “curious” men on which the victim had a profile. He then read through a list of hard-core porn movies found downloaded to Lin’s computer. He also suggested Lin used coffee enemas in connection with gay sex.
This came after Feng Lin’s chief testimony evoked images of Jun Lin, as a healthy, gentle man. One who didn’t drink much, 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 romantic relationship with Feng and his sexuality.