B.C. high school stabber to testify at hearing to determine his mental state
Published Friday, October 16, 2020 7:02PM PDT Last Updated Friday, October 16, 2020 7:05PM PDT
VANCOUVER -- The man convicted of killing 13-year-old Letisha Reimer intends to testify in an upcoming hearing to determine if he's criminally responsible for the teen’s death, according to his lawyer.
Earlier this year, a judge found Gabriel Klein guilty of second-degree murder for the November 2016 knife attack that took place after he wandered into Abbotsford Senior Secondary School barefoot and stabbed Reimer and a female classmate.
At trial, Klein’s lawyers did not raise the defence of not criminally responsible because of a mental disorder that's available under Section 16 of the Criminal Code of Canada, and presented no evidence, but did concede that he was guilty of manslaughter.
The judge disagreed and handed down the guilty verdict for murder, setting a September date for sentencing.
But just days before that hearing was to begin, Klein’s legal team, lead by Martin Peters, told the court Klein had changed his mind and wanted to raise the possibility of being not criminally responsible because of a mental disorder.
At a hearing in New Westminster Supreme Court Friday, lawyers for the Crown brought forward a motion hoping to limit the scope of the NCR hearing.
Crown prosecutor Rob MacGowan argued it was a legal gamble for the defence to not bring up the possibility of an NCR defence at trial, and now the issue of intent, or Mens Rea, had already been decided when Klein conceded to being guilty to manslaughter and the judge found him guilty of murder.
MacGowan argued that raising the NCR issue after the verdict had already been issued meant the defence was asking the judge to disregard her own previous findings on intent.
Peters argued that limiting the scope of the hearing would deny Klein his right to a full and fair defence.
“Really what’s happening here is the child killer has been found guilty of murder back in March of this year and he doesn’t like it,” said Dave Teixeira, a spokesperson for Reimer’s family. “He’s now doing Hail Mary passes to get out of it as he believes that an NCR conviction and spending time, probably a very short time for that matter, in a hospital is better than spending 10-plus years in a penitentiary.”
The judge has reserved her decision on the Crown’s motion to limit the scope of the NCR hearing.
Klein attended Friday’s hearing by video conference but did not address the court, although he spoke briefly to his lawyer before and after the hearing.
Upon learning he plans to testify on his own behalf at the NCR hearing beginning Nov. 9, Crown asked that he appear in person.
Teixeira says members of Reimer’s family intend to be at that hearing so they can look her killer in the eyes.