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Luka Magnotta trial: Computers could not be definitively linked to video

10/24/2014 02:53 EDT | Updated 12/24/2014 05:59 EST
Luka Magnotta’s computers contained traces of photos, videos and an email that could link the killer to a graphic video posted online days after Jun Lin’s slaying, but police can’t say for certain the computers were used to upload the gory video.

The court heard today at Magnotta's first-degree murder trial that software programs used to erase data were installed on two laptop computers, one found in the trash outside Magnotta's apartment, the other seized upon his arrest in Berlin on June 4, 2012.

Frank Massa, a computer forensics expert with the Montreal police, described in at times dry and technical testimony how he was tasked with examining both computers.

Massa retrieved four photos and three video files that were identical to those found on the memory card of a Sony camera police analyzed.  

The files feature an unidentified man police say visited Magnotta’s apartment on May 19, 2012, six days before Lin was killed, and some of that footage is seen briefly at the beginning of the infamous online video.

Massa told the court these files and others were put in the computer’s recycling bin on June 1, 2012, and later deleted, but police were able to recover them.

Traces of an email address used to send the video to the gore websites that uploaded it were also found on the laptop, but Massa told the court he couldn’t say whether the email was drafted on the laptop.

Massa also searched for the song that plays throughout the 10-minute video. He discovered that an MP3 file of the New Order song True Faith was downloaded on April 8, 2012, and erased on June 1 of the same year.

Magnotta has pleaded not guilty to the five charges against him, but he has admitted to the physical acts behind the charges, including killing Lin and committing an indignity to his body.

His lawyer intends to show Magnotta should not be held criminally responsible because of mental illness.

The Crown alleges the killing was premeditated.

French witnesses remember Magnotta as ‘normal’

The court also heard from a string of witnesses whose testimony was recorded in France in June.

Three witnesses cannot be named because of a publication ban.

One of them remembered Magnotta booked a room in his family hotel for nine days, starting on May 27, 2012. The witness said the accused used the name Kirk Tramell, paid cash and behaved normally, although he testified that Magnotta appeared to be sweating on the last day he saw him. 

Another witness, the man who sat next to Magnotta on the flight from Montreal to Paris, testified that he found the accused "bizarre," with long hair hiding his face. He said Magnotta seemed anxious and uncomfortable, and when the plane was landing, Magnotta moved to the back because he wasn’t feeling well.

Another witness, a cab driver who drove Magnotta to a hotel on the east side of Paris, testified he didn’t notice anything special about the client, except that he was nice and left a €5 tip.

A final witness, Jean-Philippe Lethon, testified that he sold Magnotta a bus ticket to Berlin. The accused looked clean-cut with eye makeup on, he said, and the ticket was issued under the name Kirk Tramell.

All four testified that Magnotta, in June 2014, was hardly recognizable because he had gained weight since they first met him in France.

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