After hearing from more than 30 witnesses over several weeks, Judge Lori-Renee Weitzman has ruled that Luka Magnotta will stand trial for the grisly murder and dismemberment of college student Jun Lin.
Magnotta, a 30-year-old model and actor in porn films living in Montreal, allegedly murdered Lin in May of last year. Then the violent murder took a macabre twist as Magnotta allegedly cut Lin into pieces and mailed body parts across Canada, to political party headquarters in Ottawa and two schools in Vancouver.
Before police had ascertained the alleged killer’s identity, Magnotta fled to Europe where he was soon captured in a Berlin internet café and later extradited back to Montreal.
On Friday, the final evidence was presented in the preliminary hearing to determine whether Magnotta would have to answer to charges of murder, indignity to a human body, producing and distributing obscene material via the post office, and harrassing Prime Minister Steven Harper.
After closing arguments in which the defense maintained Magnotta deserved no worse than a second-degree murder charge, Judge Weitzman made her ruling in the prosecution’s favor. Magnotta reportedly showed no emotion or surprise at the decision.
Outside court, defense attorney Luc Leclair told reporters “The Crown has not presented any direct evidence on any part of the case.” Prosecutor Louis Bouthillier announced he was “very satisfied” with the decision. Careful not to discuss the specifics of the evidence, Bouthillier thanked law enforcement for its hard work during the investigation.
A Canadian “publication ban” on evidence in the prelim prevented the media from reporting exactly what was said inside the courtroom. Reporters had to content themselves with only the names of witnesses and whatever they could see outside the witness stand. The victim’s father Darin Lin made news when he left the court a few times during particularly unsettling testimony about the killing and aftermath.
Magnotta’s colorful past provided fodder for journalists despite the court-ordered ban on revealing evidence from the hearing. Documents from a 2005 fraud charge showed that Magnotta had been previously diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. And another battle over past documents erupted when it was revealed that Magnotta had sat for a 2-hour interview at the University of Ottawa for a study on the sex trade. A judge has yet to rule whether that interview is relevant to the current case, and whether researchers will be forced to hand over the interview to authorities.
No trial date has been decided yet, but it is not expected to begin this year. Magnotta’s next court appearance is set for April 29.