Magnotta lawyer wants murder charge downgraded

Luka Magnotta. (DELF BERG/QMI Agency Illustration)

Luka Magnotta. (DELF BERG/QMI Agency Illustration)

Brian Daly, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:04 PM ET

MONTREAL - The lawyer for alleged killer Luka Rocco Magnotta will ask for the first-degree murder charge to be downgraded, he told court Monday.

"I will ask your honour to commit on second-degree, not first-degree," Luc Leclair told Judge Lori-Renee Weitzman at the end of the day's proceedings.

Leclair could make his arguments as early as Wednesday.

Magnotta, a former small-time porn actor from Toronto, faces several charges including first-degree murder in the May 2012 killing and dismemberment of Chinese student Jun Lin.

A second-degree murder conviction would still carry a life sentence, but Magnotta could be eligible for parole in as little as 10 years as opposed to 25.

Sun Media crime specialist Ross McLean said Leclair is trying to limit the potential damage to his client.

"The good news for the lawyer is if he can get it limited right at the start at second-degree, the jury can't find him guilty of first-degree," McLean said.

Weitzman has turned down nearly every defence objection and all of its motions during the preliminary hearing. McLean thinks the latest bid will fail as well.

"What I think the judge will probably do is say, 'You know what? First-degree. If the jury wants to find him guilty of second-degree, that'll be their choice'. "

Earlier Monday, the court heard from the victim's friend, Dong Dong Xu, as Magnotta sat in the prisoner's box wearing dark-rimmed glasses, a button-down plaid shirt and faded blue jeans.

During his testimony, Xu avoided eye contact with Magnotta and paused several times to pour himself glasses of water.

The victim's father, Diran Lin, was in court with his lawyer as well as a member of Montreal's Chinese community. The father was largely expressionless, unlike previous appearances in which he fled the courtroom in tears.

The court also heard six witnesses from Vancouver via video link. They included Louise Jones, the administrative assistant at St. George's junior school. The school's head of security, Robert Casey, also testified from Vancouver.

Also answering questions by video link was Bruce Murton, principal of Vancouver's False Creek elementary school, as well as the school's administrative assistant, Fan Ya Chan.

Both schools made headlines last June when they received body parts in the mail.

The Crown has just one more witness to call before it asks the judge to commit the case to trial. A police officer from Paris, France, is scheduled to testify Friday.

Evidence presented at the preliminary hearing is under a publication ban.

 

 


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