MONTREAL – The defence formally rested its case in the first-degree murder trial of Luka Rocco Magnotta on Tuesday without the accused having taken the stand.
Attorney Luc Leclair presented a dozen witnesses over roughly two weeks, with the final one being the lead investigator in the case, Michel Bourque.
Bourque was asked about Magnotta’s cellphone records, which suggested he bought the device under the name “Chris Lemieux” and changed the number frequently in the six months prior to Jun Lin’s slaying in May 2012.
While Magnotta did not testify, Leclair called several other witnesses, including his father and two forensic psychiatrists who assessed him for criminal responsibility.
Magnotta, 32, is charged with first-degree murder in the slaying and dismemberment of Lin, a Chinese engineering student. The accused has admitted to the killing but has pleaded not guilty by way of mental disorder.
The two psychiatrists hired by the defence have said they believe Magnotta was in a psychotic state the night Lin was killed and that he was unable to tell right from wrong. They also noted his schizophrenia had gone untreated since 2010.
A rebuttal witness for the Crown said Tuesday he observed no signs of schizophrenia or prolonged psychosis when he met with Magnotta for an hour about a month before the slaying.
Dr. Joel Paris, a Montreal psychiatrist, was the last medical professional to meet with Magnotta before the death.
He diagnosed the accused as having borderline personality disorder, which he said accurately depicted what Magnotta described: unstable moods marked by highs and lows and strained relationships.
The information Paris used came from Magnotta directly on April 17, 2012. He was never able to have access to the accused’s voluminous medical records from Ontario to complement his finding. The accused was referred to him by a walk-in clinic doctor.
Paris acknowledged his report did not mention schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.
“We didn’t have the evidence for it,” Paris said. “In other words, there was no evidence of an extended period of psychosis or chronic psychosis … we didn’t think that either of these were justified by the data we had.”
Magnotta did not ask for specific medications and didn’t tell Paris or the resident with him that he was hearing voices. The native of Scarborough, Ont., cast his previous mental health problems as bipolar disorder and said he heard “noises” fuelled by cocaine use.
Magnotta had said he’d been previously followed by a psychiatrist in Ontario and felt he should be in Montreal, where he’d resided since 2011. But Paris said he’s not sure what Magnotta was looking for that day in April 2012.
“I’m still not sure,” Paris said. “It may be that what we offered him did not correspond to what he was looking for.”
Magnotta faces four other charges: criminally harassing Prime Minister Stephen Harper and other members of Parliament; mailing obscene and indecent material; committing an indignity to a body; and publishing obscene materials.
The Crown contends the killing was both planned and deliberate.
After presenting 48 witnesses as part of its main case, prosecutor Louis Bouthillier announced after the defence had rested that rebuttal witnesses would be called.
The trial is in its ninth week.