Wednesday 10 December 2014

Is the murderer, Magnotta insane or not? (Part 2)                        

When I was studying criminology at the University of Toronto for five years in the early 1970s, one of the six courses I took was abnormal psychology. That course was nine months in length. Years later, I was a group counsellor for a year working with mentally ill prisoners. I am not a psychologist or a psychiatrist but I do have a fair understanding of various forms of mental illnesses.

As promised in Part 1, I am now going to give you the background and information that emerged from the trial of Luca Magnotta, a truly dangerous and evil man who killed and butchered his victim and did this while video-taping live the crime for presentation on the Internet. His lawyer argued that while he was committing the crime, he was insane. But was he really insane? That is the question that faced his jury and the same question I am putting to my readers. 

And now, I will take you to the horrible murder that took place in Toronto, Canada on or about May 29, 2010. The murderer’s name is Luka Rocco Magnotta whose original name was Eric Clinton Kirk Newman until he changed it on his own volition. He was born on July 24, 1982. He is a Canadian and in 2003, he began to appear in gay pornographic videos, occasionally working as a male stripper and as a male escort. 

On May 26, 2012, a Montana lawyer, Roger Renville saw a bizarre Internet video he believed was a snuff film depicting a bound man on a bed being stabbed to death and dismembered. Music accompanied the video. The man being butchered was 33-year-old, Lin Jun. The next day, Renville alerted U.S. and Canadian police to the Internet video but they dismissed it as a fake. That gives you some idea of just how stupid the police can be.

Many years ago when I was the producer and host of a TV talk show, one of my guests was a member of a government body that reviewed films in order to classify them. She told me that one of the films they reviewed (which they decided was not to be shown to the public) depicted a woman being butchered alive. My TV guest said that she wasn’t sure if it was a real snuff movie but she said that it was extremely realistic and it appeared as if it was produced as a home movie.

Lin Jun, a Chinese international student studying computer science was reported missing by his friends. On May 29th, the Montreal police went to a low-rent apartment building after its janitor found the dismembered torso of Lin Jun in suitcase left in the trash. The apartment had been rented by Luka Magnotta. The same day, a foot was found in a package mailed to the Conservative Party in Ottawa and a hand was found in a package in a Canada Post warehouse. The package was destined for the Liberal Party. Two schools in Vancouver each received packages containing human remains: a hand and a foot. He had cut his victim into ten pieces.

Magnotta was suspected of killing and dismembering Mr. Jun. After he foolishly posted the video online depicting the murder and dismemberment of his victim, he fled Canada knowing that the Montreal police would be searching for him so he became the subject of an Interpol ‘Red Notice sent to 190 countries thereby prompting an international manhunt. He was not the only person who put his grisly crime on line. David Kalac, a man living in Oregon, USA recently killed his live-in girlfriend by beating and strangling her then put the picture of her body on the Internet. It wasn’t long before he was identified as the killer, especially when he commented on line why he killed her.

Acting on a tip, Magnotta was subsequently apprehended by the German police on June 4th 2012, at an Internet café in Berlin while reading news about himself and his crime.  On June 18, 2012, Magnotta was handed over to Canadian authorities in Berlin and flown aboard a Royal Canadian Air Force CC-150 Polaris to Mirabel International Airport, north of Montreal.

The Montreal police not only charged Magnotta with first degree murder, he was also charged with committing indignity to a dead body and publishing and mailing obscene material. He even used the dead man’s fingers at the end of one of the dead man’s arms to masturbate himself. That too was seen on the video tape.  

The police also charged him with threatening Prime Minister Stephen Harper because of the foot being mailed to the Conservative Party of Canada offices. That last charge is so stupid when you think about it. Since he also sent a similar package to the offices of the Opposition, why wasn’t he also charged with threatening the leader of the Opposition? Again I say it. The police were stupid.  

On June 19th, Magnotta pleaded not guilty after being formally arraigned before a judge to face the charges of the first-degree murder of Jun, along with defiling his corpse, harassing Harper and members of Parliament, and publishing and mailing obscene material.

In Canada, a person accused of first degree murder cannot initially plead guilty until the trial actually begins. ‘Not Criminally Responsible’ (NCR) cases begin with a presumption of sanity, and it's up to whoever raises the NCR application and in Magnotta’s case, his lawyer  who then had to overcome that presumption and prove that the opposite is true. It's done on a balance of probability. It doesn't have to be beyond a reasonable doubt. Balance of probability is like putting the arguments for or against the proposition of sanity or insanity on scales and whichever proposition is heavier, even if slightly, the jury or judge decides in favour of the heavier proposition.

On July 1st, a tip by Magnotta led the Montreal police to a park in Montreal's west end, where they discovered human remains in reeds near a pond. On July 4th, a series of forensic tests made it possible for the Montreal police to confirm that the body part found three days earlier was Lun's head.
On March 19th 2013, Magnotta collapsed in court during a preliminary hearing while appearing distraught by evidence presented against him. Still handcuffed, he fell to his side in the prisoner's box and curled into fetal position. As far as I am concerned, this was a fake exhibition for the sole purpose of eliciting sympathy. He will get about as much sympathy as what a mosquito gets when it lands on someone’s arm.  On September 29, 2014 his trial began.

Magnotta, now 32, has admitted to the five counts against him however, he pleaded not guilty to the five offences, including first-degree murder, on the grounds that he suffered from a mental disorder and therefore wasn’t criminally responsible for the crimes he committed at the time he committed them.

Do you remember what I said in Part 1 of this series with respect to the definition of insanity?  (see December 8, 2014 of my blog). For him to succeed with that kind of defence, his lawyer must convinced the jury that Magnotta was incapable of appreciating the nature and quality of the crimes that he committed or at least, knowing that what he did was wrong and illegal. If he can’t prove at least one of those possible defenses, then Magnotta’s plea of insanity will not be accepted by the jury as a legitimate defence.

Joel Watts, a forensic psychiatrist testified at Magnotta’s trial that after studying this killer’s medical history Magnotta knew what he was doing but he couldn’t differentiate right from wrong.

Consider these important factors with respect to his defence of not being criminal responsible because of insanity. To convict him, the jury must be satisfied that Magnotta knew that what he had done was wrong and illegal. If he was insane when he committed the crimes, then why did he take great steps to remove Jun’s blood stains and splashes from his own bedroom and why did he dispose of Jun’s clothing? Why did he look in a mirror in the lobby of his apartment building to see if there was blood on the back of his pants? Was it so that there would be no evidence that Lin slaughtered Mr. Jun in his bedroom? His attempt at removing the blood stains in his apartment is clear evidence that he knew that what he had done was legally wrong. Further, he had to know what he was done was also morally wrong  because his own lawyer admitted that his client had previously spoken to a journalist about his cat-killing videos and that his client told the journalist that he believed that he was being hunted down by PETA, the animal rights group.  If he thought that what he had done was not wrong, then why would he be concerned about PETA trying to find him?

Further, not long after his arrest, he refused to meet with a psychiatrist who was assigned to interview him by the Crown. This means that he had realized that what he had done was illegal and didn’t want that Crown’s psychiatrist to discover that he was faking his so-called mental illness.  Previously he didn’t show any symptoms of schizophrenia when interviewed by another psychiatrist chosen by the Crown.  Perhaps this is why he refused to see the second psychiatrist chosen by the Crown. 

Magnotta’s actions afterwards such as painstakingly disposing of Jun’s remains, his trips to the garbage captured on his building’s very good surveillance cameras; mailing out his severed hands and feet; booking a flight to Paris the next day and from there travelling to Berlin using a different name are all arguably suggestive not just of the planning and deliberation that is a requirement of first-degree murder, but also of someone who is despite acting in an abnormal manner, was at the same time was functioning at a high level of intelligence.

Dr. Thomas Barth was one of the treating psychiatrists who examined Magnotta while he was in custody in Berlin and again later when Magnotta was in custody in Montreal. He was called by the defence to give evidence and later was cross examined by the prosecutor on the testimony he gave earlier. He said, “I strongly believed and I still do believe that Mr. Magnotta was very ill.” However, he also admitted that any psychiatrist can be fooled but he was sure that Magnotta hadn’t been faking his symptoms.                                 

I am not sure that faking insanity is so easy to do. Tricking psychiatrists into believing one is insane can be difficult to succeed in doing if the suspect is examined by an accomplished, well-trained and very experienced psychiatrist. If the suspect claimed that unseen voices in his head are what made him do it, the psychiatrist would know that he is faking. A person who is really suffering from schizophrenia always claims that the voices are coming from outside his head, not from inside his head. He also claimed that there was a radio in his head presumably emanating the so-called voices in his head. 

If a suspect otherwise sounds sincere when he pretends to suffer from schizophrenia, how would a psychiatrist know if he is or not faking schizophrenia, especially if the suspect is only examined for an hour by a psychiatrist, just as Magnotta was while he was in a hospital in Montreal? 

When someone commits a horrific, inexplicable crime, we naturally wonder whether he’s mentally ill. After all, who but a crazy person could do such a thing? But when a killer acts crazy after his arrest, we also might wonder whether he’s actually preparing his insanity defence for his trial. Nowadays, less than 1 percent of defendants charged with murder raise an insanity defense and only a small fraction of those succeed.

Psychiatrists can apply a battery of tests that essentially determine if the defendant is a faker. The psychiatrists review the crime-scene report. If the suspect has hidden the weapon, washed off his fingerprints, or taken other steps to elude the police, it’s a sign of clear thinking—not mental illness. They also do a thorough review of the suspect’s medical history. Mental illness doesn’t develop overnight, so it’s important to know if the person has been hospitalized or treated for similar symptoms. When there isn't a mental history, then there has to be very thorough evaluation to make sure the person is not malingering, or more commonly known as faking it.

There was a discharge summary from a hospital in Miami where Magnotta had spent 48 hours in early 2011. Those records state that Magnotta had no past psychiatric history; didn’t suffer from hallucinations and that he was psychiatrically fit to be released. Now he is saying he heard voices. He even claimed that he was under constant observation by someone he called Debby. He called her a witch. This brings to mind the case of serial killer, Elias Abuelazan who lived in Detroit. He stabbed 14 people in 2010 in which 5 died. During his trial, he claimed that he was under the spell of demons but the jury rejected his insanity defence. David Berkowitz, better known as Son of Sam, is an infamous 1970s New York City serial killer who killed six people and wounded several others. Howling dogs in the neighborhood kept Berkowitz from sleeping and in his deranged mind, he claimed a demon that possessed his neighbor's dog had commanded him to kill women. The real reason why he killed these women was that he found killing the women to be sexually arousing. His jury didn’t buy his insanity plea and subsequently, on June 12, 1978, Berkowitz was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison for each murder, to be served consecutively.                                

Dr. Barth’s response to that information was that some patients who are suffering from psychiatric illnesses tried to hide that fact from the examining doctors.  That is probably true but isn’t it also true that some defendants will try to fake psychiatric illnesses while they are being examined by the doctors?

Magnotta had also been seen at the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal prior to the killing of Lin Jun and at that time of him being at that hospital, he denied that he was suffering from psychotic symptoms.

There may be early warning signs, such as social withdrawal, or feeling suspicious, anxious, tense, irritable or depressed. Changes in concentration, memory and thinking may occur as well as changes in appetite, energy level and patterns of sleep. Symptoms of psychosis can vary from person to person and may change over time. 

People experiencing psychosis may have changes in their thinking patterns. For example, they may have difficulty when they try to concentrate, follow a conversation or remember things. Thoughts may become jumbled, or they may not speak in a way that makes any sense.  Moments of disorganization in someone’s speech and thoughts means that that person has gone off on a tangent. It doesn’t necessarily mean that it is a symptom of schizophrenia. They could be suffering from Alzheimers disease. That is a disease that Magnotta isn’t suffering from.

People experiencing a psychotic episode often develop false beliefs called delusions. A person may be truly convinced of a belief that is not shared by others, and even the most logical argument cannot change his or her mind. Examples of such beliefs include believing that one is being followed by others, or being monitored by cameras, or believing one’s thoughts are being controlled by an outside force.

Many years ago, I was asked to talk with a woman who was afraid to leave her home. She told me that whenever she walked anywhere outside her home, Martians were following her.  I talked her into going for a walk down the street with me accompanying her. She was right. She was being watched and followed. It turned out to be a private investigator hired by her husband and not a Martian. When I told her this information, she wasn’t afraid anymore to go outside for a walk. As to Martians—solving that problem was far beyond my abilities. 

During psychosis, people may hear, see, smell, taste or feel something that is not actually there. For example, they may hear voices or noises that no one else hears, see things that are not there, or experience unusual physical sensations. These changes in perception are called hallucinations.

In the mid-1950s when I was serving in the Canadian navy, I was given permission to practice hypnosis on my fellow sailors if they were agreeable. Many were. I decided to try something that a highly respected American psychiatrist in the U.S. said couldn’t be done. That was to trick a hypnotized person into shooting a fake gun at a stranger. A hypnotist can’t force people to do something they normally wouldn’t do unless you tricked them into doing it. For example, a hypnotist couldn’t trick people to take off their clothes while standing in a street but if you told them that they were in their own washroom and were about to take a shower, they would remove their clothes without any hesitation.

After my experimental subject was hypnotized by me, I told him that he was the only person in the room. That wasn’t true of course since I was also in the room. However, it was easy to do because I had given him a post hypnotic suggestion that he couldn’t see me in the room when he opened his eyes. After he opened his eyes and couldn’t see me, I told him that my voice was his conscious. He didn’t believe me. Since I also gave him a post hypnotic suggestion that he will do whatever his conscious tells him to do, I told him that he couldn’t get up from the chair. He tried but couldn’t get up from the chair. Then I told him that I was communicating with another man’s conscious and that man was coming into the room to kill him. I also told him that he could get up from the chair (which he did) and grab the handgun (cap gun) on the floor (which he also did) and when the other man entered the room, my subject fired his cap gun at the other man who then fell to the floor. As pre-arranged, other men came into the room just as I had brought my subject out of his state of unconsciousness and they accused him of shooting the man on the floor. He immediately said, “It was my conscious that told me to do it.” He said that he had contacted the other man’s conscious and the victim’s conscious had told him that the man was coming into the room to kill him.

I had proved that a person could be tricked into killing another person if he really heard voices that were put in his mind by a hypnotist. I also realized that a person hearing voices that aren’t really there but only in his mind, will obey those voices in his mind if ordered to do something that he wouldn’t normally do. But then, he would really be a schizophrenic.

Incidentally, that task was an easy one for me to do. A couple of months before I did that experiment, I was asked by the Army dentist in our base to give one of his patients a post hypnotic suggestion that when he sat in the dentist’s chair, he would immediately go unconscious and remain that way while the dentist was extracting his remaining teeth. The operation conducted three days later while I was in Los Angeles was a success. The patient couldn’t have his mouth frozen since the man, like many other persons, would die of a heart attack if an anesthetic was injected into his blood stream. While he was unconscious when I was hypnotizing him, I gave him an order that he would be unconscious as soon as he sat in the dentist’s chair. When he sat in the chair three days later, he obeyed my order and went unconscious and remained so until the dentist woke him up. As you can see, if someone is hypnotized, they will obey orders given to them if the orders seem reasonable to them. It follows that if schizophrenics hear voices that give them orders, they will obey them if in their minds, the orders make sense to them.

In a great many criminal cases, the defendants blame the victims for being killed. And just as God made little apples, this is what Magnotta has done.  First of all, he told one of the psychiatrists that he had posted an ad on Craig’s List for someone to have bondage sex with him. He also said that the victim responded to the ad and had agreed to have bondage sex with him. He said that the victim got rougher than he had hoped for and asked him to slow down but the man began hitting him on his head. That wouldn’t justify killing him and butchering him. I should point out that the victim was still tied to the bed posts, which raises an interesting question.  “How could the victim get rough during the sex act when he was tied hand and foot to the bed posts?” 

Now comes the real interesting aspect of his defence. He told one of the psychiatrists that he began hearing voices. One night, he looked out of his window and saw a black car parked on the street. He then suspected that his victim (who was still alive then) was an agent of the government.  He told the psychiatrist that the next thing he knew was that he was with the body of his victim.

At a later session with the psychiatrist, he said that the voices said, “Fuck it. Cut it. Stab it.” He said that something was taking over his body. He said that he heard voices telling him to give the government parts of his victim’s body. But if that is so, why did he send other parts of the victim’s body to two schools?

Magnotta didn’t explain why he masturbated by using the fingers with one of the victim’s hands or why he drowned his own puppy and placed the dog’s corpse at the feet of his dead victim. He couldn’t explain why he took a fork and knife to the victim’s body. Did he cannibalize part of his victim?

There were holes in his explanation that you could drive a truck through. For instance, the victim was an extremely shy man who was gay and who kept that a secret as best as he could so why would he consent to being videotaped during the time while he was having sex with Magnotta?  He also said that at the time of the murder of his victim, he was furious when he realized that a reporter who had been interviewing him previously had secretly audio-taped the interview with him. There was no way that he could have known at that time he was murdering his victim that he had been audio-taped by the reporter.  He only learned of it after he was charged with the victim’s murder when the prosecutor gave his lawyer the Crown’s disclosure documents.

When the prosecutor made his opening statement to the jurors, he mentioned that Magnotta had (previous to the murder of his victim) sent an email to a London, England newspaper in which he said, “The next time you hear from me, it will be in a movie I am producing that will have some humans in it, not just pussy.”  That is evidence of premeditation if there ever was one.  That by itself blows a large hole in his statement that he heard voices demanding that he stab and cut his victim or that he was suffering from schizophrenia. Further, if he was afraid of government agents hunting him down, why would he email a message to a newspaper and therefore disclose where he is?

Mood swings are often experienced during a psychotic episode. A person may feel unusually excited, depressed or anxious. He or she may also feel very little emotion or show less emotion to others who are around him.

This last sentence is interesting because in my opinion, I don’t believe that Magnotta had any feeling of guilt whatsoever when he was killing and butchering his victim. Further, he may have been sexually aroused when he sodomized his victim after the man had died.

I don’t think that when a person feels unusually excited, depressed or anxious, is necessarily psychotic. There has to be more signs of psychosis. Such people may laugh at inappropriate times or become upset for no apparent reason. They may spend more time alone or seem less interested in friends, school or work. The symptoms of the illness may also disrupt sleeping and eating patterns. For example, people may sleep less because they are preoccupied with their fears or concerns, or they may not eat for fear their food has been poisoned. The latter symptoms are called paranoid schizophrenia. Such a person under those circumstances is experiencing psychotic symptoms.

But Magnotta never told any psychiatrist that he was afraid of someone doing him harm. When the prosecutor pointed out to Dr. Barth that Magnotta was enjoying the gay life in Berlin, the doctor replied that it is not unusual for a person to behave normally before or after a psychotic episode. He testified that Magnotta was experiencing a psychotic episode when he killed and dismembered his victim.

What is really interesting about Magnotta’s past is that when he was younger, he filled out an Ontario Disability Support Plan Benefits form carefully rattling off the classical symptoms of schizophrenia along with a bad back as the reasons why he couldn’t work. His own family said that he was mimicking the symptoms of schizophrenia he had learned from his own father who was a schizophrenic.  

In August 2001, he was first formally diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic but in March, the following year, when he was seen in the East General Hospital in Toronto, the diagnosis changed to chronic schizophrenia. That was a ridiculous diagnosis for a young man because it is usually reserved for much older persons and much sicker persons whom even major anti-psychotics haven’t worked.

Quite frankly, I don`t see how any psychiatrist could possibly make that presumption if his subject hadn’t disclosed such symptoms in the past and especially since Magnotta self-reported himself as a paranoid schizophrenic. The problem of presuming that a person is a schizophrenic because that was the diagnosis in previous medical records can turn out to be totally wrong if the psychiatrist who wrote the first diagnosis was also wrong in his conclusion. That frank admission is scary at best. Now you can see why I don’t have that much faith in what psychiatrists say in court. And they want ordinary people sitting on juries to accept their diagnosis of accused persons on trial.

Dr. Chamberland in his testimony said, “When a diagnosis is made, it is very hard to unmake it by successive doctors who are reluctant to find the diagnosis was wrong in the first place. I would be the first [if a diagnosis of schizophrenia] was already made to echo it even if the patient I was seeing was showing no symptoms of schizophrenia. I would re-prescribe it and say that the schizophrenia disease is in remission. One thing is for sure, I would not remove it.” unquote.  Nevertheless, he told the court that he expressed doubt as to whether Magnotta actually suffered from schizophrenia. He testified that Magnotta’s actions prior to his arrest were highly organized which is inconsistent for someone suffering from schizophrenia. He said that schizophrenics are typically very disorganized.

Dr. Chamberland said that a person with some form of mental disorder does not necessarily meet the criteria for a mental disorder defence outlined in section 16.1 of the Canadian Criminal Code. Being a schizophrenic may very well meet that criteria however.

Dr. Chamberland pointed out in two of Magnotta’s medical records that when Magnotta was examined, he seemed perfectly fine and yet, in those same records, the two doctors who examined Magnotta diagnosed Magnotta as suffering from schizophrenia.

Dr. Barth admitted that a diagnosis is only as good as the information a patient imparts to him. He also said that he didn’t think that Magnotta was crazy, just mentally ill. What he didn’t know was that Magnotta was also an actor in pornographic movies.

There are two possible hypotheses that could explain Magnotta’s behavior. The first is that he really is a schizophrenic and the second that may be closer to the truth which is that he is faking the symptoms of schizophrenia and instead he is simply suffering from a personality disorder which is a mental illness of a different sort and not usually comprising of hallucinations or delusions. The hallucinations Magnotta claimed to have had in the past could have been drug induced while ingesting Illicit drugs. He admitted to using cocaine in the past.

Even if Magnotta had a rough childhood as he claimed, that doesn’t necessarily mean he would turn into a murderer. I and many millions of people like me had a rough childhood and we haven’t committed murder.  Was he born to be such a savage murderer? I hardly think so unless he was born brain damaged and I haven’t heard of anyone who was born brain damaged and lived long enough to murder someone. It is even possible that he has genes that headed him towards schizophrenia. However even most people who have anti-social personalities and those who also hurt animals as children, don’t go onto killing human beings.

Magnotta went by many aliases, often to gain more exposure online, according to a psychologist who testified during Magnotta’s trial. The police said Magnotta had assumed 70 different Facebook profiles. Besides passing himself off as Kirk Newman (the name he was given when he was born), he’s also gone by the names of Vladimir Romanov, Mattia Del Santo and Kirk Trammel which is the same last name as actor Sharon Stone’s character who kills victims with an ice pick in the movie, Basic Instinct. Further, the fact that he published himself killing and butchering his victim online is evidence that he is also a narcissisist killer who admires himself excessively. He was a nobody as he was growing up and now he wants everyone to see him as a somebody to admire or at least recognize. He even made up the story that he was having an affair with the infamous Canadian child killer, Karla Homolka just so that people would admire him.

Magnotta obviously wants to be known throughout the world as the man who killed and butchered another man on the Internet. He got his wish. Now he is a somebody. The fact that the vast majority of those that learned of his evil deed and at the same time have nothing but contempt for him; doesn’t bother him one bit. He’s famous and that is all that matters in his deranged mind.

It is easy to suggest that anyone who would kill and butcher a human being and send various parts of the victim’s body to various locations around the country was mentally ill when he committed those crimes. Such a person is a psychopath—one who has no empathy for humans.  He may very well have been psychotic but the important question the jury must decide is whether or not he was insane when he committed those crimes. If he knew what he was doing and that what he did was wrong and tried to cover up his crime, then being psychotic or otherwise, he would still be guilty of the crime.

When there isn't a mental history to rely upon, then there has to be a very thorough evaluation to make sure the person is not malingering, or more commonly known as faking it.

Magnotta left the following message on the mirror in his bedroom; “If you don’t like the reflection, don’t look in the mirror. I don’t care.” unquote I don’t think that that message was addressed to others who would enter his room. I think it was addressed to him alone. Why? Because he was looking in the mirror when he wrote the message and he was saying in effect to himself that he didn’t care that he had committed that horrible crime.

Magnotta did not take the stand. He might have liked to have done it, being the narcissist that he is but his lawyer probably talked him out of it. That was a wise decision on the part of the lawyer because the prosecutor would shred Magnotta’s testimony when it came to Magnotta being questioned about his sanity.

Before the matter is given to the jury to decide whether or not Magnotta was insane when he committed the murder, the judge has to give the jury instructions on the law. He cannot tell them whether or not Magnotta is insane. The judge has to presume that the defence’s argument for insanity may be right and therefore he must leave it to the jury to decide.  Of course if the trial is conducted by a judge only, then he can state which of the arguments he accepts as being valid.

However, where a judge is convinced that that there is no evidence proving insanity as a defence in the case he is hearing with a jury, he must first inform the defence lawyer and the prosecutor of his views before they make their arguments to the jury. This meeting is done in the judge’s chambers.

While an expert opinion is based on second-hand (hearsay) evidence is admissible if it is relevant, the facts asserted in that second-hand evidence are not admissible as being the truth of the accused’s condition at the time the crime was committed. Thus while medical experts are entitled to take into consideration all possible information they have been given by the other experts when they previously examined the accused, the jurors before making their decision may still nevertheless consider what they have heard as hearsay testimony. That is because the trial judge cannot instruct the jury to completely ignore the hearsay evidence. Where the hearsay evidence is a mixture of admissible and hearsay evidence, the judge must caution the jury that the weight attributed to the expert testimony is directly related to the amount and the quality on the admissible evidence that is presented to them in testimony on which their opinion depends. 

Of course, not all second-hand evidence is hearsay thus statements previously made by the accused that are of a preposterous nature by the accused may be relevant to the issue of insanity and may be accepted as original evidence on that issue.  For example, utterances by the accused manifesting a delusion or hallucination are not used to prove any fact asserted in them but as circumstantial evidence to support an inference that the accused suffers from delusions and hallucinations. While such behavior may be feigned, whether or not they indicate a actual mental health is up to the experts and finally up to the jury to affirm or not affirm.   

If the accused refuses to submit to an examination by a psychologist or a psychiatrist, evidence can be submitted to the jury of the accused’s refusal and an inference that is adverse to the accused because he refuses to be examined can be submitted to the jury by the prosecutor.  The submission of that fact to the jury doesn’t conflict with the accused’s constitutional right to a fair trial.

There is a very good reason for this right on the part of the prosecutor. If the accused is relying on the testimony of the medical experts retained by his own lawyer, it is open to the prosecutor to present to the jury the fact that the accused refused to be examined by some of the Crown’s experts. This could explain why the prosecutor’s evidence hasn’t been as complete as that of the defence. A jury being aware of that may not be too sympathetic to the accused as he would hope. However, the judge has to instruct the jury that they cannot infer that the accused’s refusal to be examined by the prosecutor’s medical experts is a sign that he is not insane. That is because under the Charter of Rights in Canada, no one is required to answer any questions put to him prior to his trial.

If he is convicted of first degree murder, he will have to serve a minimum of 25 years in prison before he can apply for parole. Would the National Parole Board of Canada grant him parole at the end of 25 years in prison? I don’t think they would. If he merely killed Mr. Lun and did nothing more, perhaps he might very well be paroled. But butchering his victim and mailing his victim’s body parts to various locations in Canada is a sign of a very psychopathic, evil individual who in my opinion, is incapable of being changed into a God-fearing, law abiding human being. All the members of the Board hearing his application for parole would probably ask themselves this rhetorical question, “Do I really want this man living next door to me and my family?”

There are kooks in society that will worship this man and even propose marrying him. Consider the woman who is going to marry Charles Manson, who is doing life in prison as a serial killer or the man who chose to marry Karla Homolka, the child killer who was finally released from prison.  As to be expected, the hospital ward where Magnotta was being examined by the psychiatrists received many postcards and letters for him which can only be called kooky fan mail. One of the letters said, “I bought socks for you. Please wear them.”

However, reasonably-minded people won’t want anything whatsoever to do with this man EVER and in all probability, he will never be released from prison, if that is where he is sent.  Of course I will never know for sure considering the fact that I am already 81 years of age and unless I live to the ripe old age of 106, when he can then apply for parole, I will never know what the final outcome of this horrible tale will be. Of course, if he is sent to a mental hospital instead of prison, it is conceivable that the doctors will release him when I am in my eighties in their belief that he will never, ever do such a horrible thing again.

Here is irony for you to ponder. During his trial, psychiatrists for the prosecution will say that Magnotta was sane when he committed the crime and psychiatrists for the defence will say that he was insane. I have always said it and I will say it again. When you get psychiatrists giving opposite views based on who hired them, they are not unlike women of the street who sell their favours and will do whatever their customers want them to do.

The psychiatrists in court at opposite tables in a court room can’t be both right.  Guess who will decide which ones are right and which ones are wrong? It is the jury which may comprise of house wives, plumbers, sales persons, ditch diggers etc. who have had no training in psychiatry or psychology and must learn these subjects fully (which takes years to learn) and after listening to these professionals’ testimony for several hours, they will make their decision as to which ones of them are right and which ones of them are wrong.  Do you see anything weird about this picture?

It is also conceivable that each of the jurors will decided that Magnotta was sane when he committed the crimes because of their fear that if they declare that he is insane, he may be released back into society when psychiatrists at the hospital for the criminally insane eventually conclude that he is cured when they might not even know of absolutely sure if he is really cured. And even the jurors may even ask themselves, “Do I really want this dangerous weirdo after he is released living next to me and my family?” And if that possibility is in their minds, they might declare him sane even if they believe that he was insane when he committed the crimes. And that is what the majority of Canadians will really call justice if they believe that Magnotta would never be released from prison as a direct result of the jury’s decision.   

At the time of this publication of this article, the jury hasn’t yet rendered a verdict. Nevertheless, I will tell you what I would decide if I was a juror at Magnotta’s trial.

As a juror, I would state that Luka Magnotta was not insane when he committed the murder and butchering of 34-year-old Lin Jun. What follows is how I arrived at that conclusion based upon the two requirements in determining insanity as a defence. Keep in mind that only one of the two requirements would be necessary to achieve a successful defence of being not criminally responsible by reason of mental illness. Those requirements are:

The accused was incapable of appreciating the nature and quality of the act or of knowing that it was wrong.

The first arm of the test is for the defence to prove that his client was suffering from a mental illness at the time he committed the crime.

Recently, the lawyer for Christopher Husbands, the man in Toronto who shot two men to death in a large mall in Toronto has laid a foundation for an insanity defence by arguing that his client was suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder because he was the victim of a vicious knife attack months earlier.  Was he experiencing those symptoms when he shot the two unarmed men?

Transient disturbances of consciousness due to certain specific factors in his past do not fall within the concept of insanity since ordinary disappointments and stresses in life do not fall into this category even though they may bring about a temporary malfunctioning of the mind. I said earlier in this article that I don’t think that when a person feels unusually excited, depressed or anxious, is psychotic.

You may recall that I also said earlier in this piece that there was a discharge summary from a hospital in Miami where Magnotta had spent 48 hours in early 2011. Those records stated that Magnotta had no past psychiatric history; didn’t suffer from hallucinations and was psychiatrically fit to be released.  Now he would have us believe that he became insane a little over a year later while he was killing and butchering his victim. 

I also said earlier in this piece that Magnotta had also been seen at the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal prior to the killing of Lin Jun and at that time of him being at that hospital, he denied that he was suffering from psychotic symptoms. Dr. Chamberland testified, adding such a diagnosis requires a long observation. He said he believes that many of Magnotta’s previous hospitalizations for psychosis were caused by drug use—notably cocaine.

During Magnotta’s initial hospital visit in April 2001, doctors were not sure what they were dealing with and no firm diagnosis had been made. They thought Magnotta might be faking symptoms but were unsure as to why.

Magnotta himself told a Montreal psychiatrist whom he saw in April 2012 that many of his previous hospitalizations had been for episodes triggered by cocaine use. That psychiatrist then had also ruled out schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. That was an interesting diagnosis considering that in less than a month later; he murdered and butchered Mr. Lin and now he claims that he was insane and suffering from schizophrenia at that particular time.

Psychosis is a descriptive term for those people who are suffering from hallucinations, delusions, sometimes violence, and impaired insight that may occur. Did it really take just over a year for Magnotta to become psychotic? What prompted him to have hallucinations and delusions in just over a year?  One research study has shown that the majority of people who hear voices are not in need of psychiatric help.

A psychiatrist hired by the Crown cast doubt on Luka Rocco Magnotta's defence that he was not criminally responsible the night he killed Lin Jun. Dr. Chamberland testified at Magnotta's first-degree murder trial that there was enough information in Magnotta’s past medical reports to show that he knew what he was doing when he murdered Mr. Jun and butchered his body. He also said, "It still seems very possible that the sane part of the gentleman, which was in touch with reality at the time of the acts, was amply sufficient to enable him to appreciate the nature of his acts and to know those actions were wrong," 

Dr. David Abrahansen testified that he conducted an examination of Magnotta to determine if he was mentally fit to stand trial and he determined that he was fit and said that he was normal as anyone else but a bit neurotic. He said that he may have suffered mini-periods of psychosis  (which isn’t unique to schizophrenia) but what he really was suffering from was an attention-seeking disorder.

In 1990, the Supreme Court of Canada reversed its previous position on the interpretation of “wrong” in that context.   In R. v. Chaulk, six of nine judges held that this word meant “morally wrong,” as opposed to “legally wrong.”  That interpretation of section 16 was further refined by the Supreme Court in a 1994 decision establishing that “The accused must possess the intellectual ability to know right from wrong in an abstract sense.  But he or she must also possess the ability to apply that knowledge in a rational way to the alleged criminal act.”

My opinion as to whether he was insane or not

I am convinced that Magnotta didn’t suffer from a disease of his brain thereby rendering him insane. There is no doubt in my mind however that he was definitely suffering from some form of illness of his mind but that doesn’t necessarily mean that he didn’t know what he was doing or didn’t appreciate the quality and nature of his act or that his actions were wrong.

It was Magnotta’s real state of mind both prior to the killing and butchering of his victim and after the murder that makes it relatively easy to form an opinion as to whether or not he was insane or not insane when he committed the murder.

As to before and after the murder, consider the following information we have learned. For example, if he was really a schizophrenic (which I don’t believe that he is) that illness didn’t prevent him from working as an escort or participating in a pornographic movie or making preparations to murder Mr. Jun and it certainly didn’t interfere with all the steps he undertook to dispose of his victim’s body or remove his victim’s blood from his room and ordering a pizza that night or making arrangements to flee from Canada.

He also claimed that he had no memory of killing and butchering Mr. Jun and yet he was able to later give full details to the police as to where he disposed of Mr. Jun’s head.  I find that claim most interesting because three days before Magnotta was arrested in Berlin, he emailed his sister Melissa and in his email, he asked, “How does it feel to be the sister of a murderer?” Melisa later said that she lost the email message sent to her by her brother. Sure she did and the moon is made of cheese.

Magnotta also claimed that he thought that Mr. Jun was a government agent and was terrified that government agents were after him and yet he wasn’t afraid of greeting the pizza deliveryman at his apartment door—a man he had never seen before.

For these reasons, I am convinced that Magnotta appreciated the quality and nature of his act by the fact that after he butchered his victim’s body, he disposed of the body parts by mailing parts of the victim’s body to various locations across Canada.  I also believe that he knew what he had done was wrong.

What was his motive to send some of Lin’s body parts to two schools or to a political party? Whatever his reason, his mind was functioning enough to form a motive in his mind to mail the body parts of Jun’s body to various locations across Canada.

I think I know what his real motive was. He was a lonely man who believed that no one really respected him. He believed that he was a nobody. When he tried to get hospitals to see him as a man suffering from a mental illness so that he would get their attention, it didn’t work. When he killed a cat, he video-taped that horrible crime so that he would get the attention of the general public who would see him as a somebody. When that didn’t work, he killed a human being and butchered him while video-taping what he was doing. He even killed his puppy and placed the body of the little dog at the feet of the corpse of Mr. Jun. He wanted the people who saw what he did on the Internet to realize that he isn’t just a somebody; he is a real bad somebody. He didn’t care if he was caught as long as he got the attention he was seeking and everyone recognized him as a real bad somebody. Well, he got our attention and we recognize him as a bad somebody that everyone despises and recognizes as a very dangerous psychopathic criminal.  

Why was he claiming he was suffering from schizophrenia, a mental illness that is a sign of insanity? You may recall that I said earlier in this piece that his father was a schizophrenic and Magnotta’s family said that Luka Magnotta was simply mimicking the symptoms that his father had.

Did he know that what he did was morally wrong?  We will never know for sure because he exercised his right not to testify at this trial.  For that reason, as a juror, I wouldn’t even consider that question relating to that part of his defence.  He did try to remove the victim’s the blood from the scene.

Would I be swayed by the fact that he refused to be examined by one of the  psychiatrists chosen by the prosecutor even though the judge would say that fact isn’t pertinent?  I would be swayed by Magnotta’s decision because in my mind, I would be thinking, “If he really was insane when he committed the crime, why wouldn’t he try to convince even the prosecutor’s choice of a psychiatrist that he was really insane when he committed the crime? Was it because he was sane enough to know that he might get tripped up as faking his schizophrenia? Was that the real reason why he didn’t take the stand to give evidence?”

But uppermost in my decision would be the fact that if he was declared insane at the time of the crime, he would be sent to a hospital for the criminally insane and there would be a possibility after a couple of years or so that he could convince the doctors in that hospital that he was cured.  That would be very easy to do if he had always been sane.  

Here is a few of the many cases were mentally ill persons were later deemed as cured by the psychiatrists in the mental hospitals they had been sent to and who were subsequently released and later murdered people. 

The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum previously held Charles Manson, the serial killer who later was responsible for a number of murders after he was released earlier from the Asylum as being cured. Russell Eugene Weston Jr. shot two police officers at the U.S. Capitol in 1999, This happened right after he had been released after being involuntarily hospitalized for fifty-three days in Montana after threatening a neighbor. Graham Young was arrested on May 23, 1962. He confessed to the attempted murders of his father, sister, and friend. The remains of his stepmother could not be analyzed because she had been cremated. Young was sentenced to 15 years in the Broadmoor Asylum but was released after nine years, having been deemed “fully recovered”. After release from the mental hospital in 1971, he began work as a storeskeeper at John Hadland Laboratories, which manufactured thallium bromide-iodide infrared lenses used in military equipment. Soon after he began work, his foreman, Bob Egle, grew ill and died. Young had been making tea laced with poisons for his colleagues. A sickness swept through his workplace and, mistaken for a virus, was nicknamed the Bovingdon Bug. These cases of nausea and illness, sometimes severe enough to require hospitalization, were later attributed to Young and his tea. Young poisoned about 70 people during the next few months, although none fatally. 

As a juror in the Magnotta case, I would ask myself, “Do I really want this freak of nature to be released from a mental hospital as being cured and then have him living next door to me?”  I would know that if he was sent to a prison, it would be highly unlikely that he would ever be released. I would vote that he was sane when he killed Mr. Jun if for no other reason than for self-preservation for me and my family.

As soon as I learn what the jury’s verdict is, I will UPDATE this article.

UPDATE:  (December 20, 2014) My prediction was correct. The jury spent eight days deciding whether or not he was insane. They decided that he was sane when he committed the murders. Subsequently he was found guilty of first degree murder and guilty of the other charges also. He was sentenced to a minimum of 25 years for first degree murder and 19 years for the other offences. The sentences are not consecutive.  The crown (prosecutor) is going to later ask the court to declare him as a dangerous offender and if he is convicted as such (and he will be) this means that he will spend the rest of his life in prison.  I am going to write another article on this man and it will be published on Wednesday,  December 31, 2014.  

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