No psych exam request in Canada body parts case
MONTREAL (AP) – A Canadian porn actor accused of dismembering his Chinese lover and mailing his body parts around the country appeared in person before a judge for the first time and requested a trial by jury.
The parents of Luka Magnotta’s alleged victim watched on a video screen at the Thursday hearing.
Magnotta’s lawyer did not seek a psychiatric evaluation for his client at the hearing in Montreal, even though the defense team had said it would. Defense attorney Luc Leclair offered no explanation about why no evaluation was requested.
Magnotta, 29, has pleaded not guilty to five charges, including first-degree murder, in the death of university student Jun Lin.
The hearing focused on setting the date for Magnotta’s next court appearance. The suspect was told he would face a preliminary hearing in March when evidence against him will be disclosed.
That means it will be well into next year before the trial starts in a case that horrified Canadians and sparked an international manhunt that led to Magnotta’s arrest in Berlin earlier this month.
Jean-Pascal Boucher of the Quebec prosecutors’ office said it was “normal delay” and the court date was “relatively soon considering the availability of both counsel and the judge and room.”
Leclair asked for trial by jury, which would take longer than a trial before a judge. He also told Judge Jean-Pierre Boyer he was concerned his client wasn’t receiving proper care.
“I want to express my concern for his physical well-being and his mental well-being,” Leclair said.
The judge agreed to make a request to ensure that Magnotta received medication, but he placed a publication ban on the type of medication.
Magnotta’s physical appearance in court was a surprise. Security around the suspect has been very strict, and he entered his plea of not guilty via videoconference at his arraignment Tuesday.
Wearing a plaid shirt and jeans, Magnotta kept his eye on the judge from behind a glass partition, flanked by two guards. Four other guards stood outside the glass box.
Lin’s parents, who traveled to Canada from China upon learning of their son’s death, watched the proceedings on a screen in a separate room, Boucher said.
The case emerged after a package containing a severed foot was opened at Canada’s ruling Conservative Party headquarters on May 29. Other body parts were later found at a postal facility, a garbage dump outside Magnotta’s apartment building in Montreal, and in packages mailed to two schools in Vancouver.
Investigators say Magnotta posted a video online showing him having sex with the dismembered corpse. A second, unedited version of the video seen by police shows him eating parts of the body.
DNA tests have confirmed that all the body parts belong to Lin, a Chinese national studying computer science at Concordia University. His head is still missing.
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