10/08/2014 11:46 EDT | Updated 12/08/2014 05:59 EST

Luka Rocco Magnotta Trial: Berlin Man Says Accused Was Looking For Fresh Start

MONTREAL - The man who housed Luka Rocco Magnotta in Berlin said Wednesday he felt ill when he read about the Canadian being sought for the murder and dismemberment of Jun Lin.

It was after four days of socializing and partying with Magnotta that Frank Rubert happened upon a German newspaper article that would drastically change his views on his short-term boarder.

Rubert described the contents of the article during testimony at Magnotta's first-degree murder trial Wednesday: the person mentioned was Canadian and was being sought for killing his Chinese friend.

He also testified the story mentioned body parts had been sent to the government, that pieces of a body had been eaten in front of a camera and that it had all been documented on the Internet.

"I read the article, there were cruel things in that article," Rubert said, adding he began to get nervous at the thought of that same individual being in his apartment for four days.

Earlier, Rubert said Magnotta arrived in Berlin from Paris with a few thousand euros, no luggage and reportedly looking for a fresh start after breaking up with a lover in the French capital.

Rubert told the jury that his entire time with Magnotta — online and in person — spanned several days in late May and early June 2012.

He met Magnotta on a chat website called GayRomeo while looking for a roommate.

Rubert said he didn't want to bring Magnotta home when he first saw him at the bus station.

The native of Scarborough, Ont., looked greasy, was unkempt, shabbily dressed and wearing a wig, although the witness didn't realize it at first. Rubert decided to bring him home because he didn't want to leave him alone in Berlin with nowhere to go.

"He arrived at the bus station and he didn't look like somebody I would feel attracted to," said Rubert, 53.

Testifying through an interpreter, he said they spent much of their time together shopping, eating and drinking. They did not have sex because Magnotta wasn't his type and appeared much older than in his online profile age of 22 or 23.

Magnotta, 32, has pleaded not guilty to five charges in the murder and dismemberment of Lin in late May 2012.

He has admitted to the acts he's accused of in the death, but is arguing he is not criminally responsible by way of mental disorder.

In the days after the killing, he flew to France before heading to the German capital and hooking up with Rubert.

Over the four days leading up to Magnotta's arrest, the two men used Google Translate on their respective laptops to communicate as neither spoke the other's language.

During their time together, Rubert knew the accused as Kirk or by his GayRomeo user name, William2323.

Rubert told the jury he snapped some photos of Magnotta as the latter wanted to set up a new GayRomeo account so he could begin working as an escort in Berlin. They even went to gay bars so Magnotta could talk to other foreigners about their escort experiences.

He said they socialized for four days without anything untoward happening. They were together all the time and Rubert said he never saw Magnotta take any kind of medication or appear nervous.

He noted that Magnotta was generous and often bought drinks for others and paid for their meals.

On the day of Magnotta's arrest, June 4, 2012, the pair had parted ways for a few hours because Rubert was ill at ease with the accused staying alone at his apartment while he ran an errand.

Rubert said he suggested Magnotta go to an Internet cafe to pass the time.

It was during that time apart that Rubert picked up a newspaper and saw a chilling image on the inside pages: a mug shot of Magnotta alongside a story describing an international manhunt for his arrest on suspicion of murder.

While Rubert contacted police and waited at a nearby station, an Internet cafe employee had flagged down officers after seeing Magnotta in the establishment. Rubert was still waiting at the station when Magnotta was arrested.

After Magnotta was nabbed, police seized his personal items from Rubert's apartment.

"On that day I reflected, and thought how stupid I was to let just anybody come into my apartment without knowing what kind of a person this was," Rubert said.

The German police, he added, wished him a happy birthday after the arrest.

"I replied it's not my birthday and the police said yes, it is, because you could have been the next," he said.

It was only then that Rubert found out Magnotta's real name and nationality.

Under cross-examination, the defence blasted Rubert for an interview he gave a German newspaper in late September about the case.

Rubert was also questioned extensively about his lengthy criminal record — one that includes convictions for theft, fraud and sexual abuse involving minors.

The witness took exception to defence lawyer Luc Leclair going through his entire rap sheet.

"I am wondering are you going to make a criminal out of me?" Rubert asked at one point during numerous testy exchanges. "I've travelled 5,000 kilometres to come here and I don't need to hear my criminal record."

Later, the defence tried to paint Rubert as an opportunist who was trying to use Magnotta for his money when he proved to be too old for the German's liking.

Rubert insisted that Magnotta had made the offer to pay part of the monthly rent of 340 euros for the apartment as well as other expenses for taking him in.

"When somebody says that to me, why shouldn't I take 50 euros or 100 euros and pay something with that," Rubert said.

The Crown contends that Magnotta planned Lin's killing and says it will prove that during the proceedings.

The charges against Magnotta are first-degree murder; 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.

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