NEWS

Luka Magnotta Verdict Still In Hands Of Jurors, As Deliberations Continue

12/22/2014 04:00 EST | Updated 02/20/2015 05:59 EST
ASSOCIATED PRESS
FILE - In this Monday, June 18, 2012 file photo provided by Montreal Police, Luka Rocco Magnotta is taken by police from a Canadian military plane to a waiting van in Mirabel, Quebec. Magnotta, a Canadian porn actor accused of dismembering his Chinese lover and mailing the body parts to political parties and schools collapsed in court during his preliminary hearing Tuesday, March 13, 2013. (AP Photo/Montreal Police, File)
MONTREAL - The jurors debating the fate of Luka Rocco Magnotta will enter their second full week of deliberations on Tuesday after yet another day in which they made no contact with the court.

Tuesday will be Day 8 for the jurors, who have returned to the courtroom only once since being sequestered.

Magnotta, 32, is charged with first-degree murder and four other offences in the slaying and dismemberment of Chinese engineering student Jun Lin in May 2012.

He has pleaded not guilty by way of mental disorder in the hope of being found not criminally responsible.

If jurors don't reach verdicts on the five charges by the end of the day Wednesday, they will have to sit on Christmas.

Since getting the case last Tuesday, the panel of eight women and four men has contacted the court only twice — once to ask a legal question and once to get technical help.

Magnotta's lawyer claims his client is schizophrenic and couldn't tell right from wrong at the time of the slaying, while prosecutors argue Lin's death was planned and deliberate.

In addition to first-degree murder, Magnotta is charged with 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.

Without any questions and because their deliberations are secret, it is impossible to know where the jury stands on the case.

And while the process may seem long, the Montreal courthouse recently hosted another jury trial where it took 18 days of deliberations before a verdict was reached.

Quebec Superior Court Justice Guy Cournoyer told jurors during his final instructions one week ago that if they found Magnotta not criminally responsible in the murder, that verdict must be the same for all the charges.

The jurors sent a legal question last Wednesday to the court, asking whether a personality disorder is a disease of the mind from a legal standpoint, something the judge confirmed.

Since that question, they've been quiet with the exception of seeking technical assistance on Friday.

The jurors arrive in the morning at about 9 a.m. and tend to work until 5 p.m.

They must come to unanimous verdicts on all five charges.

During his final charge to the jury, Cournoyer also left the door open to the possibility of finding Magnotta guilty of second-degree murder or manslaughter.

The judge advised them to first tackle the question of whether they believe Magnotta is not criminally responsible.

As Magnotta has already admitted the physical acts of the crime, the case has centred on his mental state at the time of Lin's slaying.

Cournoyer told them they would need to answer two questions for a mental disorder defence to be accepted. Firstly, is it more likely than not Magnotta was suffering from a mental disorder at the time of the offence? And secondly, did the disorder make him incapable of knowing the acts were wrong?

The jury has been given a mountain of evidence to consider: Magnotta's voluminous medical records dating back to 2001 and three expert psychiatric reports providing contradictory opinions on his level of criminal responsibility.

That is in addition to physical evidence from the scene and elements gathered during a police investigation that spanned two continents.

In Quebec, jurors are compensated $103 a day until the 57th day after the jury is formed.

After that, as is currently the case, their compensation rises to $160 a day. They are paid extra if they sit Sundays and holidays.