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Luka Magnotta trial: Magnotta was courteous and cultivated: French witness

10/27/2014 05:13 EDT | Updated 12/27/2014 05:59 EST
A Frenchman who allowed LukaMagnotta to stay the night — just days after 33-year-old Jun Lin was killed in Montreal — found Magnotta to be courteous and polite, a man who was cultured and knowledgeable about politics.

Jean-Christophe Robert, a resident of Clichy in the suburbs northwest of Paris, testified he first got to know Magnotta through a gay website called PlanetRomeo at the end of April or beginning of May 2012, and Magnotta told him he was preparing a move to France.

They also had a brief telephone conversation, in which Magnotta informed him he was going to be in Paris on June 4.

Robert’s testimony was recorded in June of this year, along with other European witnesses who were unable or unwilling to testify in person at the first-degree murder trial.

The witness testified Magnotta sent him a text message when he arrived in Paris, earlier than expected. Robert invited him to his home on the evening of May 28, where he said they spoke about culture and politics over drinks. Magnotta stayed the night but slept on the sofa, the witness said.

Robert testified that after he recognized an Interpol photo of Magnotta in the newspaper several days later, he contacted police to tell them where Magnotta was staying and gave them his Parisian phone number.

The court also heard from a Parisian police officer, Julien Mielo, who confirmed Robert came to police with the name of the hotel Magnotta had booked — a detail that was not reported in the media. Mielo described what the local police gleaned from Magnotta’s movements in Paris, after they were alerted by Montreal authorities.

He told the court police confirmed Magnotta used three bank cards to withdraw money, about €1,500 from an ATM.

They also discovered he used the name Kirk Tramell and a hotel address to obtain a cell phone.

Under cross-examination, defence lawyer Luc Leclair focused on Robert’s sexual preferences, as he suggested Magnotta’s stay was planned. Leclair suggested Robert, a nudist, asked Magnotta to remove his clothing, to which the witness, visibly uncomfortable, answered he did not remember.

“Terrible smell” in beautifully-wrapped package

The court also heard from a string of witnesses in Vancouver via video link, who described their response when packages containing body parts arrived on June 5, 2012 at two different elementary schools.

Louise Jones, an administrative assistant at St. George’s School, a private institution for boys, testified she was surprised to see a box addressed to her since she had not ordered anything.

Jones started to open the box, and noted it was a beautifully-presented gift, wrapped in tissue paper, but “the smell was dreadful”. She said she took it to the nurse who helped her tip out the contents.

“To our horror, a body part appeared,” she said, later specifying it was a foot.

A similar story from those working at False Creek Elementary, who said they received a package with a strong smell of fish. They later discovered it contained a hand.

The court had previously heard the Vancouver parcels were sent using the names and addresses of Hubert Chrétien, son of a former prime minister, and Logan Valentini, sister of Karla Homolka.

Today, the jury heard from Montreal lawyer Sylvie Bordelais, who confirmed her mother Renée’s name and address were used to send the two packages containing body parts mailed to political parties in Ottawa.

Bordelais testified her 81-year-old mother was in the Caribbean at the time the package was mailed.

Ballistics inconclusive

The Crown also called Gilbert Desjardins, who was designated an expert in examining "tool marks”.

Desjardins told the court he observed a deep mark on the victim's vertebrae that indicated it was made with a back-and-forth motion of a saw, but he was unable to determine if the Mastercraft mini saw found in the trash outside Magnotta's apartment was the one used.

The witness also determined the superficial wounds on the victim were likely caused by a knife or an X-Acto, but he wasn't able to link the weapons found at the scene to the actual wounds.

Desjardins said he drafted his report in September 2014 and only had a photo of the victim's skull wounds to study, making it impossible to say if they were inflicted with a hammer.

The Crown will rest its case Tuesday. Legal discussions in the absence of the jury taking place on Wednesday. 

The defence plans to call its first witness on Friday. It intends to argue Magnotta should not be held criminally responsible for the five charges against him due to mental illness.

The accused has admitted to the physical acts behind the charges, including killing 33-year-old Jun Lin and mailing obscene material, but pleaded not guilty.

The Crown alleges the killing was premeditated.

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