WINNIPEG - Vince Li could soon be granted temporary passes away from a mental hospital four years after he beheaded and cannibalized a fellow passenger on a Greyhound bus.
A psychiatrist who has treated Li told the Manitoba Criminal Review Board on Monday that the 44-year-old has responded well to medication and should have the right to escorted trips into Selkirk, Man.
The request left the mother of Li's victim, Tim McLean, shocked.
"Can you guarantee me that he's not going to eat somebody else's eyes, somebody else's heart? Slaughter another individual? No, nobody can guarantee me that," Carol DeDelley said outside court in Winnipeg.
"If you all think that maybe this is a good thing, that he should be free, let him come and stay at your house, 'cause I sure as hell don't want him in my neighbourhood."
The request to the review board was unopposed by Crown attorney Susan Helenchilde. The board reserved its decision and is expected to rule within days.
Li's lawyer, Alan Libman, told the board there are "no reasons not to endorse the recommendations of the (psychiatric) treatment team."
Li has been at the Selkirk Mental Health Centre since he was found not criminally responsible for killing McLean, a young carnival worker, in July 2008. McLean had his eyes closed and was listening to music on his headphones when Li, a stranger who was sitting beside him, suddenly stood up and started stabbing him.
As the bus stopped and horrified passengers fled, Li continued to carve up McLean's body and eat portions of it.
Li's trial was told he was an untreated schizophrenic.
He was initially kept in a locked ward of the mental hospital, but was allowed short walks on the hospital's grounds, under the watchful eye of two staff, in 2010. The conditions imposed on Li are reviewed annually. Last year, the board ruled that Li could walk the hospital grounds with only one escort.
As part of this year's review, Li's psychiatrist has asked that Li, escorted by two people, be allowed off the grounds and into Selkirk. The trips would start at 30 minutes and expand by 15 minutes every week.
"(Li) has done very well with his medication," Dr. Steven Kremer told the review board.
"There is no evidence that he harbours any delusional belief and ... he recognizes he has schizophrenia."
Throughout Monday's hearing, Li remained quiet. His head was bowed slightly as he looked at the desk at which he was seated. He was dressed in a black suit and sneakers. He wore handcuffs and leg shackled as he entered the courtroom, escorted by two sheriff's officers.
In the public gallery behind him, DeDelley and many of her relatives wore white T-shirts that featured a photograph of a smiling McLean.
Kremer described Li as a model patient who has shown no security risks and who has participated in treatment programs and taken up odd jobs at the hospital.
Kremer is also asking that Li's walks on the hospital grounds no longer require a staff member to be by his side. He would instead be under the general supervision of staff watching over other residents as well.
DeDelley said she has always believed that Li will one day be allowed to go free.
"My concern is not about him while he's contained. My concern is about what happens when he gets out and he starts feeling better, and then he decides he doesn't want to take his meds," she said.
Kremer told the hearing that Li understands "that if he does not take his medication, there would be a deterioration".
Li emigrated from China in 2001 and worked menial jobs in Winnipeg. He moved to Edmonton in 2006 and was on his way back to Winnipeg when he killed McLean.
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