NEWS

Luka Magnotta murder trial in final stretch

12/04/2014 03:27 EST | Updated 02/03/2015 05:59 EST
The judge in the LukaMagnotta first-degree murder trial has told jurors they should be prepared to be sequestered by the end of next week to begin deliberations to reach a final verdict.

Magnotta has admitted to killing and dismembering Jun Lin, 33, but the defence has argued he was in a psychotic state at the time and should be found not criminally responsible for the five charges against him.

The Crown has presented evidence to try to persuade the jury the crime was planned months in advance.

Justice Guy Cournoyer declared the evidence closed on Thursday morning, after the defence was granted permission to ask several extra questions to the two psychiatrists it hired to evaluate Magnotta’s criminal responsibility.

Doctors don't 'rubber stamp' diagnoses, experts testify

The questions addressed new issues that arose from the Crown’s rebuttal testimony, which was dominated by the conclusions of Dr. Gilles Chamberland, the forensic psychiatrist hired by the prosecution.

Defence lawyer Luc Leclair asked the same questions of each expert and focused on sexual disorders.

Both psychiatrists for the defence – Dr. Joel Watts and Dr. Marie-Frédérique Allard – said they did not believe Magnotta suffered from sexual sadism disorder, nor with antisocial personality disorder, which in extreme cases leads to psychopathy.

Leclair also asked each defence expert whether the fact that Magnotta ordered a pizza to be delivered to his apartment in the hours following the killing is incompatible with being in a psychotic state at the time.

Both psychiatrists said no, explaining that it’s possible Magnotta had paranoid thoughts that the victim was a government spy out to get him, yet did not transfer that paranoia to others, such as the pizza delivery man.

The defence’s last question to each psychiatrist was whether doctors tend to transfer a patient’s initial diagnosis of mental illness from file to file without doing a proper evaluation – a response to the Crown’s expert testifying that Magnotta’s schizophrenia diagnosis was made too rapidly and later repeated.

“It’s wrong to say psychiatrists will simply rubber stamp the diagnoses made by other colleagues in the past,” Dr. Watts testified, although he added that it’s normal to give weight to a diagnosis if several have come to the same conclusion.

What happens next?

The jury will be absent as the judge and lawyers discuss legal issues. The judge specified to the jurors that this is common practice in such trials.

When the jury returns next Wednesday, closing arguments will begin, and the judge will give his final instructions on Friday morning.

Fourteen jurors have sat through 40 days of testimony and received piles of evidence, but the law limits the number of people deliberating to 12.

Two jurors will be chosen at random and dismissed before deliberations begin, likely on Friday afternoon.

The trial, which was expected to last a maximum of two months, has already stretched to ten weeks, with more than 60 witnesses called to testify.

Several witnesses testified in foreign languages through an interpreter, while others were heard on recordings taken when the court travelled to Europe in the summer.

Magnotta did not testify in his own defence.

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