Luka Magnotta lawyer challenges competence of doctor who performed autopsy on Lin
WATCH: The second week of the Luka Magnotta trial wrapped up with the defence challenging the competance of the pathologist who performed Jun Lin’s autopsy
Warning: The following story contains graphic material.
MONTREAL — Forensic pathologist Yann Dazé was forced to defend his professionalism and expertise Friday, when Luka Magnotta’s lawyer suggested some of the expert’s actions rendered him “incompetent.”
Defence attorney Luc Leclair suggested Dazé’s analysis was in some way flawed because the pathologist didn’t watch a snuff film posted online and alleging to show the killing before conducting his five-day autopsy on the remains of 33-year-old Jun Lin, who Magnotta killed and dismembered in May 2012.
Dazé defended his decision to not watch the film, saying he did not want to open the door to any perceived bias in his work, should he be called to testify, and that his work focuses on the human body rather than videos.
Plus, he said, he sees enough “disgusting” material doing his day job.
Leclair is setting the stage to convince the jury his client was so psychologically sick when he killed Jun Lin he can not be held criminally responsible.
The defence asked Dazé whether he has any “experience” with hammers, the weapon the pathologist said yesterday was likely used to inflict countless fractures to the victim’s head.
Dazé said he did, through his more than 1,100 autopsies performed over four years. Leclair pressed on, asking the Crown’s 12th witness how he could tell there were multiple blows to the head — couldn’t one, with enough force, cause the damage the autopsy detailed?
No, Dazé said.
Earlier Friday, Dazé noted an absence of any defensive wounds on the victim.
While the defence plants seeds for an eventual verdict of not criminally responsible, the Crown is focused on establishing premeditation and intent.
The judge overseeing Luka Magnotta’s first-degree murder trial took the rare step of sitting for a fifth consecutive day after Dazé’s testimony was cut short Thursday.
Leclair rose in objection Thursday afternoon after Crown prosecutor Louis Bouthillier asked his witness whether any chemicals could grow in a body posthumously.
Dazé responded there was one, which resembles the drug commonly known as the “date rape drug.” The witness was clear, however, there was “absolutely no” trace found in Lin’s system. The pathologist said the toxicologist had, however, detected some level of sleeping pills and allergy medication in Lin’s system.
Leclair argued the Crown and witness should not have evoked the commonly known — and often feared — drug in this case, especially considering none was detected during the victim’s toxicology report.
Earlier on Thursday, Dazé walked the jury through one of the more graphic phases of the first-degree murder trial.
He said the most probable cause of death was a long cut along the victim’s neck, although he couldn’t exclude the numerous skull fractures Lin also suffered.
Those fractures (there were so many, the pathologist said he couldn’t count them), were likely inflicted with the hammer investigators found in the piles of trash Magnotta left behind when he fled Montreal, Dazé said. Had those blunt force traumas occurred while Lin was still alive, they could have caused his death, he said.
But the pathologist said he and his team couldn’t determine the timing of the blows on account of the advanced state of decay of the head by the time it arrived at the lab for analysis.
After Magnotta killed Lin in May 2012, he chopped up his victim’s body, leaving some parts in the trash, mailing others in parcels sent to Ottawa and Vancouver, and dropping the head among tall plants at a Montreal park.
Different body parts arrived for autopsy at different times and in different conditions, Dazé said as his chief testimony began Thursday.
The pathologist, speaking in French, said he could qualify Lin’s autopsy as “difficult,” not only on account of those circumstances, but also because the body had suffered considerable trauma. Dazé identified three types of weapons used to kill Lin and destroy his body: sharp, blunt and pointed.
Dazé, reading from his autopsy report, noted the victim’s body suffered 55 stab wounds in total — 37 to the upper body and 18 to the abdomen, some so deep they punctured the victim’s lungs and intestines. These injuries were inflicted after the victim was already dead, likely with the screwdriver investigators found among Magnotta’s discarded items.
There were another 73 superficial cuts to Lin’s back, arms and legs; a part of his buttocks was cut out; and the tips of Lin’s fingers on one hand were damaged in a way Dazé said might indicate Magnotta had tried to remove the victim’s fingerprints. Analysis concluded those injuries were also inflicted after death – likely with a knife, the pathologist said.
During cross-examination, Leclair asked Dazé whether, in his opinion, someone trying to remove fingerprints would have to cut the tips of fingers on both hands. Dazé said yes.
Particular coloration along one laceration on the neck indicated it was inflicted while Lin was still alive, Dazé explained. The overall state of the head, however, prohibited Dazé from determining whether it was fully removed from the rest of the body before or after Lin had died from other wounds, he said.
The pathologist also described the dismemberment in detail, concluding the victim’s arms, legs, hands and feet were removed once Lin was already dead.
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 admitted to committing the actions of which he’s accused but pleaded not guilty. His lawyer said he intends to argue Magnotta was so psychologically sick, he wasn’t in control of his actions during Lin’s killing and dismembering.
© 2014 Shaw Media