December 15, 2014 / 7:23 PM / 4 years ago

Jury starts deliberation in Canada dismemberment trial

MONTREAL (Reuters) - Jurors began deliberations on Monday in the trial of a Canadian man who killed and dismembered a Chinese student in 2012, weighing the defense’s claim of mental illness against grisly evidence the prosecution said showed careful planning and execution.

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

Luka Magnotta, 32, has admitted to killing engineering student Jun Lin, 33, in 2012 but has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder on grounds of mental illness. He is also accused of defiling a corpse, videotaping the acts, and mailing body parts to elementary schools and political parties.

The prosecution said Magnotta was “a man on a mission” and carefully planned the killing.

“Make your decision without sympathy. Do not be influenced by public opinion,” Justice Guy Cournoyer told the jurors, who have heard graphic evidence in the 11-week trial.

“You have to ask yourself whether a mental disorder deprived Mr. Magnotta of the capacity to decide rationally whether the acts were wrong.”

The jury was shown a video Magnotta posted online of the killing, which included a soundtrack and was entitled “One Lunatic, One Ice Pick”. The prosecution said that six months before the killing, Magnotta emailed a British journalist to say he planned to kill a human and make a movie of it.

The jury heard that Magnotta, a gay escort, 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.

Magnotta, sitting behind a glass panel, gazed at a document in his lap as the judge instructed the jurors. He did not testify during the trial.

The case gripped Canada in the spring of 2012 when body parts began showing up in a Montreal park and in packages sent to Ottawa and Vancouver. The packages contained hands and feet wrapped in pink tissue paper as well as notes and poems.

The victim’s father, Diran Lin, traveled from China to attend the trial.

Magnotta fled to Europe after the killing and was arrested in a Berlin Internet cafe, where he was reading about himself.

If Magnotta is found not criminally responsible, he faces an indefinite sentence in a mental institution. If he is convicted of first-degree murder, he would get an automatic life sentence with no possibility of parole for 25 years. He could also be found guilty of second-degree murder or manslaughter.

Writing by Andrea Hopkins; Editing by Amran Abocar, Peter Galloway and Grant McCool

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