WINNIPEG – A man who beheaded a fellow passenger on a Greyhound bus in Manitoba has won the right to eventually live on his own.
A Criminal Code Review Board has approved a plan that would allow Vince Li to at some point move out of the group home where he now lives.
Li — who has changed his name to Will Baker — killed Tim McLean during a bus trip along the TransCanada Highway near Portage la Prairie in July 2008.
He was found to be not criminally responsible for the murder due to a mental illness — schizophrenia.
The board reviews Baker’s file annually and has ruled that he could move out on his own following an updated assessment report that would include conditions for living in the community.
Baker was originally kept in a secure wing at the Selkirk Mental Health Centre, but the board has granted him increasing freedoms almost every year.
The request for more freedom came from Baker’s medical team, which said he has been a model patient and understands the need to continue to take anti-psychotic medication.
Even living on his own, he would be subject to several conditions that would include daily monitoring, regular check-ins with mental health professionals and random drug tests.
Baker sat next to the 22-year-old McLean on the bus after the young man smiled at him and asked how he was doing.
Baker said he heard the voice of God telling him to kill the young carnival worker or “die immediately.” Baker repeatedly stabbed McLean who unsuccessfully fought for his life.
As passengers fled the bus, Baker continued stabbing and mutilating the body before he was arrested.
He won the right to leave the hospital and live in a group home last year.
Supporters say Baker and other people deemed not criminally responsible for their actions deserve the right to rehabilitation and freedom. But opponents, including some politicians and McLean’s mother, have opposed the board granting Baker increasing freedom.
“The Crown has the ability to view Will Baker … as a designated high-risk not criminally responsible person, but they have chosen not to,” Conservative MP James Bezan wrote in a statement this week.
“They have blatantly ignored the rights of the victim’s family, and compromised the public safety of our community in (their) decision.”