WARNING: This story contains details, including photo and video, that may be disturbing to some readers.
Testimony and evidence presented at the trial of a B.C. woman accused of stabbing another woman inside a Vancouver courtroom last year has focused on the chaotic and bloody scene, as well as the mental state of the accused.
Catherine Shen faces several criminal charges, including attempted murder, after allegedly attacking Jing Lu ahead of a court hearing on a civil case between the two women on May 25, 2021.
Photos shown during the trial and obtained by Global News highlight Lu’s injuries to her chest and arms. They also show the aftermath of the alleged stabbing inside the courtroom, as well as the weapons Shen is alleged to have used: a fish knife with a six-inch blade and a hammer, both covered in blood.
Security video also obtained by Global News does not show the stabbing — cameras are not allowed inside the courtrooms at the Vancouver Law Courts — but does appear to show Shen pacing outside the courtroom minutes before the hearing was set to begin.
It later shows multiple B.C. Sheriff’s deputies rushing to the scene after a panic button inside the courtroom was hit by the court clerk.
On Wednesday, two deputies who were among the first to arrive both testified to the amount of blood on the floor of the courtroom, as well as on Shen and Lu.
Kulbinder Bagri testified that he was the first to attend to Lu’s injuries, which he said included a serious cut to her left wrist that he estimated was four inches deep. Another serious puncture wound was found on Lu’s upper chest near her collar bone on her left side.
After applying pressure and bandages, Bagri testified that he told Lu she was in “good hands” in an effort to comfort her.
Later, Chris Zanoto testified that he “immediately smelled blood” upon arriving inside the courtroom. He told the court he took control of Shen, who was already disarmed and in handcuffs, and took her to a holding cell.
Zanoto testified that when he asked Shen if she understood that she was under arrest for assault, she replied yes, but later said she was fearful Lu was going to hurt her.
“I do not need first aid,” Zanoto said Shen told her. “First aid cannot help me. I am sick.”
'I was really fearful,' victim testifies
On Tuesday, Lu testified she was sitting inside Courtroom 32 at the Vancouver Law Courts when she felt a blow to her head, describing the feeling as an “earthquake.”
Lu said she saw Shen standing behind her with the weapons in her hand, adding Shen was “using all of her force to try to stab me with the knife.”
“I was really fearful,” Lu told the court.
“I did not know where I was injured. I could only feel blood coming down.”
Shen and Lu were due in court that day for a contempt hearing in an ongoing civil suit related to a more than decade-long “verbal war” on social media between the two women, according to court documents.
Lu testified that the conflict started on an online chat forum for Chinese immigrants, where both she and Shen eventually posted increasingly negative and hateful comments about the others’ families, as well as each other.
The two women did not know each other outside the forum, according to previous court records.
While Lu was under cross-examination by Shen’s defence lawyer Scott Wright about the online conflict, Shen shouted out from the prisoner’s box on two separate occasions that Lu was lying.
Later on Tuesday, John Roberge, the court sheriff who was first to arrive, testified he first heard what he thought was a seagull before realizing it was cries of distress.
He told the court he ran to the courtroom and found two women jostling back and forth, only stopping after he yelled at them to do so.
Aftering ordering both women to lay on the ground, he testified that he disarmed Shen of the knife and hammer and tossed them both across the room. He then put Shen in handcuffs after calling for backup and paramedics.
Wright, the defence lawyer, told Global News he will be filing an application for Shen to be found not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder.
The trial has now been adjourned until April 20 to allow for psychiatric reports.