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Luka Magnotta Murder Trial: Ballistics Expert Testifies

10/27/2014 12:37 EDT | Updated 12/27/2014 05:59 EST
CAUTION: GRAPHIC CONTENT MAY DISTURB SOME READERS

MONTREAL — The Crown's last in-person witness testified at Luka Rocco Magnotta's murder trial Monday as the high-profile criminal proceedings entered their fifth week.

Ballistics expert Gilbert Desjardins was asked about six tools recovered in the garbage outside Magnotta's apartment building and markings that appeared on the bones of victim Jun Lin.

The tools were a pair of scissors, two knives, a screwdriver, an oscillating saw and a hammer, but none of the items could be definitively linked to Lin's slaying, Desjardins said.

He testified, however, that marks consistent with that of a saw blade were found on Lin's vertebrae.

Also, marks he said were caused by either a knife or an exacto blade left superficial marks on some of the bones.

No marks on the bones were linked to the screwdriver or the scissors, Desjardins told the court.

Some 43 witnesses have been heard from through Monday, including some who appeared via video conference from Vancouver and some from Europe who were interviewed this past summer.

The Crown is expected to wrap up its case this week with more recorded testimony, while the defence is tentatively scheduled to begin presenting its case Friday.

Magnotta, 32, faces five charges: first-degree murder; criminally harassing Prime Minister Stephen Harper and other members of Parliament; mailing obscene and indecent material; committing an indignity to a body; and publishing obscene materials.

He has admitted to the killing but has pleaded not guilty by way of mental disorder. The Crown contends the slaying was both planned and deliberate.

One of the final prosecution witnesses was Jean-Christophe Robert, 51, a Paris resident who met with Magnotta when the accused fled to France shortly after Lin's slaying and dismemberment in late May 2012.

Robert's first contact with Magnotta was in April or May 2012 when they hooked up via an online chat site called Planete Romeo.

He said he initially expected Magnotta in Paris on June 4 — the day he was ultimately arrested in Berlin.

Instead, he showed up on May 27 and spent the night at his apartment after their conversations went late.

Robert said Magnotta came across as cultivated, courteous, polite and someone who clearly took care of himself. He insisted they did not have sex.

Four days later, he discovered who "Luke" really was while reading a news story on his smartphone.

"The first word that comes to mind is panic," said Robert. "After that, reflection."

He called police with two pieces of information: the name of the hotel Magnotta was staying at and a French mobile number he'd used to contact him.

During cross-examination, defence lawyer Luc Leclair questioned Robert about being a nudist and suggested the witness had asked Magnotta to undress upon arrival at his home.

The jury also heard from five Vancouver-based witnesses about receiving body parts in the mail at two local schools.

Four school officials testified about receiving smelly boxes in the mail on June 5, 2012. Upon opening them, officials found a hand and a foot belonging to Lin.

Later, the jury listened to the videotaped testimony of a French police officer who went over law enforcement's attempts to track down Magnotta in France.

Julien Miello said police were able to find a cab driver who drove Magnotta to a hotel just outside Paris proper. Later, they were able to verify bank withdrawals made by the accused and looked into a French cellphone he activated in France that was later discarded in the trash.

Eventually, Robert contacted police, which led them to a second hotel. Police seized personal items at both hotels and later discovered Magnotta had boarded a bus for Berlin.

Miello said their investigation ended once German authorities arrested Magnotta.

Earlier on Monday, a Montreal lawyer testified about a relative's name that ended up on two packages containing some of Lin's body parts.

Sylvie Bordelais said her mother's name, Renee Bordelais, appeared on boxes that were mailed to political offices in Ottawa.

Bordelais said her 81-year-old mother was living in the Caribbean in May 2012 and not at the Canadian address that appears on the packages.

Bordelais didn't recognize the writing and said her mother has health problems that would have prevented her from being able to write.

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