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Luka Magnotta found guilty of first-degree murder

Jury finds former escort and pornstar guilty of five criminal charges

Diran Lin and a translator were at the court every day of the trial.  Credit: Michelle Pucci
After seven days of deliberation, the jury found Luka Rocco Magnotta guilty of first-degree murder.
 
Jun Lin would have celebrated a birthday on Dec 30. Diran Lin, Jun Lin’s father, will be heading home to China empty-handed, he says. Magnotta, meanwhile, will begin serving his life sentence for first-degree murder.
 
Most of what took place on the night of May 24, 2012, was published to the world when a video showing the former pornstar killing Lin and cutting up his body was uploaded to the internet.
 
Along with the murder conviction, the 32-year-old was found guilty of harassing Prime Minister Stephen Harper and other members of Parliament for mailing parts of Lin’s corpse to the Ottawa headquarters of the Conservative and Liberal parties. He was also found guilty of three other charges: using Canada’s postal service to send other body parts across the country, including to schools in Vancouver, and for publishing obscene material — the snuff video itself, which many believed did not exist — and for indignity to Lin’s dead body. 
 
Magnotta, who sat upright with his eyes on the floor as juror number nine read out the decision, will spend 25 years in jail without parole for Lin’s murder. He was sentenced separately to a maximum of 19 years for the other charges; that sentence will be served concurrently with his life sentence.
 
For the past week, eight women and four men have been sequestered, going over hundreds of pages of testimony from the trial’s 66 witnesses, digesting 40 days of a gruesome murder trial in the week before Christmas. During the trial, the jurors watched Magnotta’s video and the surveillance tapes that showed him making 16 trips out of his apartment building with a suitcase and garbage bags, stopping to check out his butt in a mirror and order a pizza.
 
A few weeks after the murder, Magnotta was apprehended in Berlin, in an internet café, looking up stories about his fugitive self.
 
Diran Lin appeared at the courthouse every day accompanied by a translator, waiting to hear the fate of his son’s killer. After calling up his wife to tell her the news, his attorney read out a letter Lin had written.
 
“I had come to see your trial system to see justice done, and I leave satisfied that you have not let my son down,” Lin wrote. In his letter he spoke of Jun Lin’s decision to move to Montreal in 2011. His son studied engineering at Concordia University and worked part-time at a convenience store. 
 
Diran Lin wrote about his son’s desire to work and live in Canada, so far from his home. “I live each day with regret that all I now see available here will never be his, that his name will only be associated with a horrible, degrading crime,” he wrote. “It causes me fresh pain to know that my son’s legacy is to be remembered as a victim.”
 
He hoped he could finally hear an apology from Magnotta when Judge Cournoyer offered him a chance to speak after he was convicted. From within his glass box, Magnotta took measured steps to the phone, then told his lawyer he refused.
 
According to the prosecutor, Magnotta’s unwillingness to testify during the trial crippled his case. “No one could attest to the accused’s state of mind but himself,” Crown attorney Louis Bouthillier said. “He took the chance that the jury would be left with very little to ponder.”
 
Defence attorney Luc Leclair defended Magnotta’s right to silence. “We are fortunate to live in a country that has trials, even for horrible crimes,” Leclair said.
 
A few days ago, standing in an elevator with Jun Lin’s father, Leclair finally confronted the man he’d wanted to meet since the start of the trial.
 
“I shook his hand,” Leclair said at a media gathering. “He looked sad. But he looked like a kind man. I know that he came to Canada to get some answers, but as I told him, you don’t get all the answers that you want.” Leclair also took the opportunity to criticize the government’s move to expand Canadian prisons. He said Canada needs to focus on supporting victims of mental health, to prevent cases like Magnotta’s.
 
Magnotta was diagnosed with schizophrenia when he was younger. Although psychologists said they saw little signs of mental illness in the months before Lin’s murder, Magnotta’s biological father is, in fact, schizophrenic. Leclair maintains that Magnotta is mentally insane. 
 
Magnotta has 30 days to file an appeal. While his lawyer said there are grounds, he gave no hint as to whether an appeal will be made.
 
“It has been a long and challenging road,” Leclair said. “I need some rest.”