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Luka Magnotta lawyer to seek insanity defence

Brian Daly. (Philippe-Olivier Contant/QMI Agency)

By Brian Daly, Postmedia Network

Luka Magnotta in court Sept. 16, 2014.
DELF BERG / QMI AGENCY

Luka Magnotta in court Sept. 16, 2014. DELF BERG / QMI AGENCY

MONTREAL — Luka Rocco Magnotta admits killing Chinese student Jun Lin but has a 13-year history of schizophrenia and should be found not criminally responsible, his lawyer told a jury Monday.

The Crown countered that Magnotta planned the murder months in advance, and the trial opened with a litany of gory photos including a fly-ridden human torso and garbage bags stuffed with legs and arms that were missing feet and hands.

"Mr. Magnotta has admitted the physical acts for each of the offences," defence lawyer Luc Leclair acknowledged during opening arguments in the long-awaited trial that could come down to a battle of psychiatrists.

The former small-time porn actor is the latest high-profile Canadian murder defendant to seek hospitalization rather than prison, just like bus beheader Vince Li and child-killing cardiologist Guy Turcotte.

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Leclair named no fewer than eight doctors Monday who examined Magnotta in the defendant's native Toronto as well as Montreal and Berlin before and after the May 2012 murder of Lin, 33, an engineering student from Wuhan, China.

Leclair said psychiatric reports and testimony will show Magnotta, 32, is a disordered young man who heard voices and had a persecution complex.

He added that Magnotta's mental health file dates to 2001 and was "not something that was invented last week."

"From the time that he was 19 or so, he was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia," said Leclair, who added that Magnotta's father, Donald Newman, is also schizophrenic and could testify.

In his opening, Crown prosecutor Louis Bouthillier countered that the May 25, 2012, videotaped murder was "planned and deliberate up to six months in advance."

Bouthillier said Magnotta sent an e-mail to the U.K. Sun newspaper in November 2011 that "makes it clear that Mr. Magnotta was planning to kill a human being and ... was going to make a movie of that killing."

The first Crown witness, forensic ID expert Caroline Simoneau, showed 161 often grisly photos of bloodied limbs cleanly severed at key joints.

There were also photos of steak knives, an electric cutting saw and rubber gloves.

All were found inside black garbage bags outside Magnotta's west Montreal apartment, said the Crown.

There was also a photo of a black travel bag that Simoneau said was smelly and swarming with flies when she examined it outside the apartment.

Another photo showed the bag opened, with a human torso inside.

The Crown said Magnotta rented the apartment two months before the murder and that surveillance video from May 2012 shows Magnotta entering the building with Lin.

"He will be killed by Mr. Magnotta, a few hours after that. His body will be dismembered, and four parcels containing his hands and feet will be mailed, by the accused, to schools in Vancouver, and political parties in Ottawa."

The Crown said Lin's head was found in Angrignon Park, a few kilometres from the murder scene, a month after the killing.

The jury was also warned that they will see a video showing "graphic, gruesome and potentially upsetting" acts committed to Lin's body.



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