POLITICS

Magnotta jury puts questions to witness on Day 33 of first-degree murder trial

11/20/2014 11:58 EST | Updated 01/20/2015 05:59 EST
MONTREAL - Jurors at Luka Rocco Magnotta's first-degree murder trial sought clarification on various issues Thursday as they asked questions of a witness for the first time in 33 days of testimony.

Justice Guy Cournoyer read out three questions to Dr. Joel Watts, a psychiatrist who assessed Magnotta for criminal responsibility on behalf of the defence.

In response to a query about what effect a combination of Temazepam, Benadryl and alcohol could have on a person suffering from paranoid psychosis, Watts replied it did not necessarily have a direct impact on psychotic symptoms or hallucinations.

The jury has previously heard that the sleep drug Temazepam and Benadryl, an over-the-counter allergy medication, were found in the body of Jun Lin, the man Magnotta killed and dismembered in May 2012.

Watts said Magnotta did not tell him he consumed any Benadryl on the night of the slaying, but that they drank and took Temazepam pills.

"Those two drugs and alcohol don't have a direct effect of making psychosis necessarily worse or better, they don't have direct impact on those symptoms," said Watts, adding the medication could make people drowsy or lessen anxiety.

Jurors also wanted to know from Watts whether Magnotta's 2011 hospitalization in Miami could have been caused by his no longer taking anti-psychotic medication.

"The fact that he had not been taking his anti-psychotic medication regularly definitely had an impact on the worsening of his symptoms, the worsening of his psychosis," Watts said.

Finally, the jury wondered to what extent Magnotta's answers to Watts in their meetings might have been shaped by what the accused's lawyer, Luc Leclair, had already revealed to him about the case.

Watts previously told the trial Magnotta said he couldn't always make the distinction between his own memories and what Leclair told him.

The forensic psychiatrist replied that while some of what Magnotta told him might have been influenced by what he heard from his lawyer, only the accused would have memories of psychotic elements.

"I don't think what he was telling me about, in terms of his psychotic experiences, would per se be biased because those are not things that would have been presented to him by anybody else," he said.

"Only he would have memories of those things, only he would be able to recollect those things."

He repeated that he believes those symptoms were not fabricated.

Magnotta admits killing and dismembering Lin, but is presenting a defence based on mental disorder.

Watts and another psychiatrist have testified for the defence that Magnotta was psychotic the night of the killing and was incapable of telling right from wrong.

The Crown is arguing the crimes were planned and deliberate.

The defence presented three other witnesses following Watts, who spent five days on the stand.

A Montreal police homicide detective testified in person, while the jury also heard testimony from two French witnesses that was gathered in Paris this past summer.

The trial resumes Monday as it enters its ninth week.

Initial estimates had pegged it to last between six and eight weeks.

Cournoyer said this past Monday he hoped the jury would begin deliberating during the first week of December.

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