What’s going on in the Magnotta jury room? Here are a few possibilities
WATCH: Elysia Bryan-Baynes talks with Amy Minsky about what challenges the Magnotta trial jury may be facing during its deliberations.
MONTREAL — Only 12 people will ever know for certain what happened during deliberations — a tiny fraction of those wondering what’s taking so long to render a verdict in Luka Magnotta’s first-degree murder trial.
Are the jurors hung up weighing which psychiatric diagnosis to believe? Did they reach an impasse they’re attempting to get through before going back to the judge? Or maybe they’re considering the avalanche of evidence presented during the trial.
Any and all of those scenarios are possible. Those of us outside the jury room at the Montreal courthouse can only speculate, and that’s likely all we’ll ever be able to do.
As Quebec Superior Court Justice Guy Cournoyer warned the jurors last week, jury deliberations are secret, and talking about what happened in the jury room could result in a criminal charge.
WATCH: Global News legal analyst Philip Schneider weighs in on the Luka Magnotta jury deliberations.
The case against Magnotta might seem open and shut — after all, he admitted to killing 33-year-old Jun Lin. He admitted to mailing four parcels with body parts and menacing notes, to desecrating the victim’s body, recording the event on video and then posting that video online.
But it’s not that straightforward: of all the questions facing the jury, “Did Magnotta commit the crimes?” is not one. We already know the answer to that question.
Instead, the jury is tasked with answering these questions:
Is it more likely than not Magnotta was suffering a mental disorder at the time of the act? Did that mental disorder render the defendant incapable of distinguishing between right and wrong?
Does the defendant have schizophrenia, as his medical records indicated and defence psychiatrists testified? Or does he have a personality disorder, as expert Crown witnesses testified and was also seen in the medial files?
WATCH: The defence has asked the jury to find Luka Magnotta not criminally responsible. Global National’s Mike Armstrong reports on how the jury will decide if he goes to jail or to a mental institution.
What exactly are the distinctions between the two diagnoses?
Do we put more faith in the testimony from the four psychiatrists the defence called, or the two the Crown called?
And for that matter, which of Magnotta’s versions of events do we put more stock in? Was it voices in his head telling him to kill Lin or was it his acquaintance Manny, who no one was able to track down and may not even exist? He told different stories to different psychiatrists.
READ MORE: Not criminally responsible myths, debunked
Certainly, there are even more questions the eight women and four men are grappling with. We know one: they approached the court with a question last week, wanting to know whether a personality disorder is, in the legal world, considered a “disease of the mind.” It is, the judge told them.
What they did with that information, of course, we don’t and never will know.
With each question, the jury has more than a decade’s worth of medical records to look through. It has the gruesome snuff film Magnotta posted online as well as the raw files used to make it.
WATCH: The Crown presented its closing arguments to the jury who will decide Magnotta’s fate.
Then, there are hours upon hours of surveillance tapes police investigators collected from the building where Magnotta was living and killed Lin, from two airports when the defendant fled Canada to France, from a hotel in Paris, from a bus station when he left France for Berlin and from the Internet café where German officers arrested him.
Of course, there are the psychiatric reports together totaling close to 330 pages of dense material, the hundreds of photos police entered as evidence along with clothing and weapons recovered from garbage bags outside the apartment building and transcripts of testimony from 66 witnesses heard over 40 days in court.
The list goes on, and so do the questions.
The jurors may decide Magnotta was “more likely than not” in a state of psychosis when he killed Lin.
WATCH: Global Montreal’s Domenic Fazioli reports on closing arguments at the Magnotta murder trial.
If that’s the case, their job is complete, for the judge told them a not-criminally-responsible verdict on murder must carry to the four other charges Magnotta faces.
If the jurors, however, decide he was of sound mind when he killed Lin and dismembered the corpse, filmed much of the horrific episode and posted an edited version of the tapes online, and mailed some body parts to Ottawa and Vancouver with false identities listed as return addresses, they have more work to do.
Dismissing a not-criminally-responsible verdict means the jury will have to render unanimous verdicts for all five charges, beginning with first-degree murder then moving on to the charges committing an indignity to a human body, publishing obscene material, criminally harassing Prime Minister Stephen Harper and other members of Parliament, and finally, mailing obscene and indecent material.
In order to find guilt for those charges, each juror has to be satisfied the Crown proved so beyond a reasonable doubt — thinking Magnotta “may” have committed the crimes or “probably” committed the crimes is not enough, the judge told the jury last week.
So, what happens? The jury is sequestered until it reaches unanimous verdicts (yes, that includes Christmas). If it reaches an impasse and announces it is hung, the court would have to declare a mistrial.
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