Magnotta trial hears of discovery of victim’s severed head
WATCH: Luka Magnotta steps off a military plane with his hands and feet shackled as he returned to Canada to face charges (June 18, 2012)
Warning: The following story contains graphic material.
MONTREAL — Montreal police found Jun Lin’s severed head thanks to a cryptic fax from a Toronto lawyer on July 1, 2012, a Montreal court heard Wednesday.
More than a month had passed since Luka Magnotta killed and dismembered Lin, discarding most of Lin’s body parts in garbage bags, mailing others through Canada Post. Investigators had recovered all save for the victim’s head.
But on Canada Day, homicide detective Antonio Paradiso had a fax waiting for him in the office, he told a court Wednesday.
“You may find what you are looking for by following these directions,” the fax read. The directions — from a lawyer Paradiso said he’d never met or heard of — led to a lake in a sprawling Montreal park. Before heading out to search the area, Paradiso printed out a map of the area.
The fax, which was entered into evidence Wednesday, came from Raphael J. Feldstein.
Paradiso said he didn’t know which pond to search, as there are three in the park. He tried, unsuccessfully, to reach Feldstein for more specific instructions.
Eventually, with the help of the original directions and a police dog, investigators recovered Lin’s badly decomposed head by a lake in a Montreal park on July 1.
A July 1 fax from Raphael Feldstein.
Paradiso was on this case from the beginning, which began when a man made the grisly discovery on May 29, 2012 of a torso stuffed inside a suitcase. As the case unfolded, the victim was identified as 33-year-old Lin, and the suspect as Magnotta, now 32 years old.
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 has admitted to committing the actions of which he’s accused but pleaded not guilty. His lawyer is arguing Magnotta was so psychologically sick, he wasn’t in control of his actions during Lin’s killing and dismembering.
Paradiso’s role in the investigation would bring him from a briefing at the police’s homicide unit to the command centre set up outside the building where the torso was found, to the victim’s apartment, a drug store post office, the airport, a Montreal park and finally Berlin, where Magnotta was apprehended June 4 bringing an international manhunt to an end.
Suspect cooperative, quiet
Once in Berlin on June 18, Paradiso was among six officers and a psychologist who flew with Magnotta to Montreal from Berlin.
At the German airport, the officers awaited their suspect. He was 20 minutes late, arriving around 2:20 p.m., Paradiso said during cross-examination.
It was the first time the officer met Magnotta face to face.
Paradiso, along with his partner, escorted Magnotta along the tarmac and up the stairs to the plane. All three then walked toward the back, near the kitchen. There, Paradiso formally arrested the man who’d been on the lam, cuffed him and read him his rights.
Magnotta then showed the officer a piece of paper saying he had been in touch with a lawyer and invoked his right to remain silent, Paradiso told the court.
And that was it. Other than taking a couple of trips to the bathroom and eating some food, Magnotta spent the six-hour flight silent and asleep.
“He was very quiet, very cooperative,” Paradiso said.
Paradiso has almost 27 years experience as a police officer and has been an investigator with the major crimes unit since 2002, he told the jury.
No trace of victim’s sperm at crime scene: biologist
Earlier Wednesday, Jacinthe Prévost continued her testimony from Tuesday, telling the court any attempts made to clean up the bloody crime scene did not turn out well.
Prévost is the forensic biologist who examined the countless blood stains found throughout Magnotta’s bachelor apartment-turned-crime scene.
The apartment was covered with Lin’s DNA, said Prévost, who has 18 years experience in her field. Lin’s blood was on the bed, radiator, sofa, walls, floors, bathtub, sink and fridge. His hair was in the kitchen.
Although some stains were smeared, Prévost said that was not definitive proof of an attempt to clean up the scene. The blood could have smudged, she said, if something brushed up against it.
Evidence in the bathroom, however, signalled a potential — though shoddy — clean-up she said, citing blood drained in the bath tub and rinsed from the sink.
Prévost also told the court Wednesday she examined sperm samples taken from the apartment. The samples returned matches to magnotta, but not the victim.
Prévost examined the apartment and took photographs May 30, 2012, one day after Lin’s torso was found outside the building.
She told the 14-member jury on Tuesday she later analyzed some 94 pieces of evidence beginning May 31, 2012 while writing her report, including a toothbrush that had the DNA of an unidentified man. The rest of the DNA recovered in the apartment belonged to Lin and Magnotta, she said.
Sleeping aids found in Lin’s body
The third and final witness Wednesday was forensic toxicologist Catherine Lavallée, who told the court she found traces of Temazepam and Benadryl in the victim’s remains. Yann Dazé, the forensic pathologist who perform Lin’s autopsy, last week told the jury the same thing.
Lavallée received her samples — bile and organs — from Dazé’s lab. She explained to the court that Temazepam, a sleeping aid, is available in Canada in capsule form, either in 15 mg or 30 mg doses. A doctor’s prescription is required to get it.
Given enough of the drug, a person could suffer amnesia or even fall into a coma, the expert witness said. The amount found in the sample Lavallée tested was only 2 mg, well below the lowest recommended dosage, she told the court.
Taking the sleeping aid along with Benadryl — an over-the-counter allergy medication that induces sleepiness — could, however, amplify the effects of both drugs, she said.
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