December 10, 2014 / 8:03 PM / 3 years ago

Defense stresses insanity as Canada dismemberment trial wraps up

An artist's sketch shows Luka Rocco Magnotta, appearing in court for his preliminary hearing in Montreal, March 11, 2013. REUTERS/Atalante

MONTREAL (Reuters) - The lawyer for a Canadian man who killed and dismembered a Chinese student in 2012 urged the jury in one of Canada’s grisliest murder trials on Wednesday to focus on his client’s long history of mental illness.

Luka Magnotta, 32, has admitted to killing engineering student Jun Lin, 33, defiling a corpse, videotaping the acts, and mailing parts of the body to elementary schools and political parties. He is pleading not guilty due to mental illness.

During the trial, the prosecutor said Magnotta had started planning to kill a human being and make a movie of the act at least six months before he killed Lin in Montreal.

The defense said Magnotta has a long medical history of schizophrenia and was psychotic when he killed Lin. The key psychiatric expert for the prosecution said Magnotta knew his actions were wrong and enjoyed the attention the killing brought him.

Magnotta’s video of Lin’s dismemberment, which he posted online within days of the killing, was called “One Lunatic, One Ice Pick,” and included a soundtrack.

In his closing argument, defense attorney Luc Leclair urged jurors to consider the insanity of Magnotta’s behavior before and after the killing, rather than focusing on the conflicting psychiatric testimony.

“I don’t want you to fight over who is the best expert,” Leclair told jurors in French. “In my view, there is no doubt that Mr. Magnotta suffers from schizophrenia.”

Magnotta, who did not testify, had been hospitalized in 2001 and had sought psychiatric help about a month before Lin’s death. Magnotta’s father, who testified at the trial, also has a medical history of schizophrenia, Leclair said.

“It doesn’t make sense to go to a clinic while planning a murder,” he said.

After the killing, Magnotta sent body parts to two elementary schools in Vancouver and to two political parties in Ottawa, wrapping the hands and feet in pink tissue paper and including poems and notes.

He then fled to Europe and was the subject of an international manhunt. He was arrested in a Berlin Internet cafe, where he was reading about himself.

The prosecutor gives his closing arguments on Thursday. The jury will begin deliberations on Friday.

If Magnotta is found not criminally responsible, he faces an indefinite sentence in a mental institution. If he is convicted, he would get an automatic life sentence with no possibility of parole for 25 years.

Editing by Peter Galloway

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