MONTREAL - The lawyer for alleged body-parts killer Luka Magnotta could ask for a psychiatric evaluation Tuesday for his infamous client in the gruesome dismemberment and murder of Jun Lin.
Magnotta, 29, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges including first-degree murder, indignity to a corpse and criminal harassment of Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
The slightly built former porn actor stared blankly into the camera as he entered the plea by video-conference from a booking centre where detectives had interrogated him in the morning.
At the courthouse, the judge, Crown, defence and about 100 spectators and journalists watched Magnotta on video screens in a courtroom and overflow room.
At the conclusion of the three-minute hearing, defence lawyer Pierre Panaccio told Magnotta that he would be “pleased to talk to you about this” and to call him later in the evening.
The defendant, remaining expressionless, replied, "Ok."
Magnotta was transferred from the booking centre to an east-end jail, where he’s expected to be kept in isolation for his own protection.
Judge Lori Renee Weitzman will hear arguments Thursday from the Crown and from Panaccio on the defendant’s criminal responsibility for Lin’s murder.
Crown lawyer Guy Bouthillier, who will prosecute the case along with Helene Di Salvo, said Magnotta could be sent to a mental hospital for up to 30 days.
“A psychiatric report would ... tell the court whether the accused is criminally responsible or not,” said Bouthillier.
The gruesome case that captured international headlines began when Lin's torso was found outside Magnotta's Montreal apartment late last month.
Lin's hand and foot were mailed to political parties in Ottawa and two other appendages were sent to two Vancouver schools. But one part is still missing.
"The first question is where the head can be found," Montreal police Cmdr. Ian Lafreniere said Tuesday.
Police said the murder was filmed and posted online, and the clip has been downloaded thousands of times.
Magnotta has been under near-unprecedented security ever since arriving back in Canada on Monday evening. Dozens of police officers and border agents escorted Magnotta from a military jet that arrived from Germany. A convoy of vehicles, including officers with machine guns, transported him to a booking centre.
Critics said taxpayers shouldn't have to pay such exorbitant sums to transport just one man, but Lafreniere defended the extraordinary measures.
He said high-level security was to stymie "admirers, unfortunately, of Magnotta."
Lafreniere said the large jet, an Airbus Polaris military transport plane, was needed to make a direct flight from Berlin -- where Magnotta fled following the alleged murder.
Lafreniere explained that a refuelling stop with a criminal on board presents "a diplomatic problem."
Aside from security concerns, some analysts have wondered if the wall-to-wall media coverage of the case has tainted the jury pool.
World media has been awash in stories about the bisexual former sex-trade worker who has auditioned for reality shows, created dozens of Facebook pages and sought attention wherever he could find it.
But Bouthillier doesn’t expect jury selection to pose major problems.
“Juries have been handling tough matters in this country for hundreds of years, and I fail to see why they could not handle ... this case,” he said. “Sure, it’s going to be a difficult case, but they're all difficult cases when you speak of murders.”
Charges against Magnotta:
Indignity to a dead body
Mailing obscene matter
Criminal harassment against Prime Minister Stephen Harper and members of Parliament
Lin family facing "very long year or two": Crown
Prosecutor Helene Di Salvo says the Crown plans to meet Jun Lin’s family members, who are still in Montreal in the care of the Chinese community.
Di Salvo said part of her job will be to assure the Lin family that justice will be done in the Magnotta case.
“It’s the beginning of a very, very long year or two years, so we'll try to help them to go through this,” Di Salvo told reporters after Magnotta entered a not-guilty plea Tuesday.
“My colleague and I really want them to believe in our justice system, and we'll do our best to reassure them that we'll work very, very hard in this case.”
Lin’s head has yet to be found, and Di Salvo said it’s more than just a piece of evidence but also “very, very important for the family of the victim” as they prepare a funeral.
The Crown plans to keep Lin’s family up to date on developments in the case even if they return to China.