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Luka Magnotta trial: Jury delivers guilty verdict in death of Jun Lin

12/23/2014 11:14 EST | Updated 02/22/2015 05:59 EST
A jury in Montreal has found Luka Magnotta guilty of the first-degree murder for the killing and dismemberment of Chinese engineering student Jun Lin. 

The jury returned the verdict after eight days of deliberation.

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Aside from the possibility of finding Magnotta not criminally responsible, jurors had been given several choices for a verdict:

- First-degree murder, if they found the act was planned and deliberate.

- Second-degree murder, if they believed intent was there without planning.

- Manslaughter.

The verdict marks the end of a lengthy and unusual trial that focused primarily on Magnotta’s psychiatric state at the time of the killing.

Magnotta, 32, pleaded not guilty to the five charges, arguing he suffers from a mental illness, but he admitted to the physical acts of killing and dismembering Lin, and sending his body parts with menacing notes to political parties and schools.

Lin, 33, a Chinese national, was studying at Montreal’s Concordia University when he met Magnotta. According to what the accused told psychiatrists hired by the defence to assess him, Lin responded to an ad Magnotta posted on Craigslist, looking for kinky sex.

The jury later saw surveillance video of Lin walking into Magnotta’s apartment building the night he was killed and, in the hours that followed, plenty of images of Magnotta cleaning up and running errands, occasionally while wearing his victim’s clothes.

The jury also saw a graphic video depicting parts of the crime, which was posted online shortly after Lin died, as well as additional footage found on Magnotta’s computer.

Lin’s body parts were found in a suitcase outside Magnotta’s apartment, in packages sent to the headquarters of political parties and two Vancouver schools, and in a Montreal park.

After an international manhunt, Magnotta was arrested in June 2012 at an internet café in Berlin. A German police officer testified Magnotta was looking at an Interpol photo of himself before his arrest.

By the time his trial started more than two years later, Magnotta was barely recognizable. The once well-groomed, thin young man who flaunted his looks for modelling photos and a reality show audition had gained a significant amount of weight in custody.

On the day the trial opened, it took an unusual turn. Magnotta admitted to the acts detailed in the five charges, but pleaded not guilty.

His lawyer would spend the next 10 weeks trying to convince the jury that his client was in a psychotic state when he killed Lin, unable to tell right from wrong, and therefore not criminally responsible.

The defence called Magnotta’s father, a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic, as its first witness. It also relied heavily on psychiatric reports and medical records to convince the jury Magnotta has suffered from schizophrenia since his late teens.

The Crown focused its case on surveillance footage and witness testimony that prosecutor Louis Bouthillier said proved Magnotta had planned the killing, and his well-organized escape from law enforcement, months in advance.

Bouthillier presented the jury with an email Magnotta sent to a British journalist in which Magnotta described the pleasures of killing and the need to continue - with a plan to produce a video depicting the death of a person. Six months later, Lin was dead and the graphic video was posted online.

The prosecution also painted Magnotta as an attention-obsessed, needy man, who drew on elements from the 1990s erotic thriller Basic Instinct in committing the crime.

Magnotta did not testify in his own defence.

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