Witnesses say man accused in high school stabbing wanted to go home, call mother
Six witnesses who have now testified at the trial of a man accused of fatally stabbing a student at an Abbotsford high school in 2016 all told the court Gabriel Klein said he wanted to go home to Alberta, and talk to his family, in the days leading up to the attack.
Klein is charged with second-degree murder in connection with the death of 13-year-old Letisha Reimer, and aggravated assault in connection with the stabbing of another student at Abbotsford Senior Secondary who survived. He has pleaded not guilty, and the Crown has said while it's not being disputed that he was the attacker, Klein intends to raise the defence of not criminally responsible due to a mental disorder.
Kylee Evanuk, who was part of the security team at Abbotsford Regional Hospital on Oct. 30, 2016, testified she saw what she described as a “peculiar sight”: a man laying face-down in the waiting room on top of a large green knapsack.
“He looked like he was in some kind of pain,” Evanuk said. She told the court he eventually told her he was really sick, he needed to contact his mother, and he wanted to go back to Alberta. Evanuk testified the man she later heard being referred to as “Gabriel” was clutching his abdominal area and “scrunching” his eyes closed. She told the court the man said: “I just need to get help, I just need to get better.”
Evanuk testified she let him try to call his mother on her phone, but there was no answer. She also told the court she went to talk to hospital staff about the man, and says she was told he would be fine and that he wasn’t suicidal. Evanuk testified she later recognized the same man on Nov. 1, the day of the stabbings, being brought into the hospital in cloth restraints on a stretcher surrounded by police.
A hospital social worker, Faye Reglin, testified she was asked to find a shelter for a patient named Gabriel Klein on Oct. 30, 2016. She told the court she was called by an emergency room doctor who had assessed Klein for scratches to his arms and hands from handling chickens. When asked by Klein’s lawyer if she saw his hands and arms, Reglin said no. She testified she was also unaware Klein had been complaining of swelling in his spine.
Reglin told the court Klein appeared calm, not agitated, and made good eye contact. She first testified he was sitting upright in the exam room, but then clarified under cross examination it was more accurate to say the hospital bed was in an upright position beneath him.
Reglin also testified Klein told her he wanted to go back to Edmonton, and added his money and ID had been stolen. Reglin said she contacted the Lookout shelter and got him a taxi. Reglin testified she later identified Klein as the man who was brought into the hospital on Nov. 1, at the request of a police officer.
Under cross examination, Klein’s lawyer Martin Peters asked Reglin if she was concerned Klein was released from hospital and two days later the stabbings occurred. She eventually responded: “Based on my assessment that I completed of Mr. Klein, I did not have any concerns from my perspective.”
The court also heard from three workers at the Lookout shelter, who testified they dealt with Klein on Oct. 31 and Nov. 1. All three told the court Klein said he wanted a bus ticket to go home, and wanted to contact his family.
Andrea Desjarlais testified she had spoken to his mother and she had asked he only contact her by email, not by phone.
Another shelter worker, Hilary Cave, testified she gave Klein directions to the public library attached to the high school, so he could use a computer there to email his family.
Desjarlais testified on Nov. 1, Klein became “verbally aggressive," questioning why she wouldn’t put a call through to his mother and wanting a bus ticket, which she told the court would have taken a couple of days to get. She testified he left her office and she heard a big bang and an echo, and said it sounded like he hit the locker outside. She then told the court staff heard banging coming from the washroom and it sounded like the door was being hit from inside.
Cave testified after hearing a loud noise she opened the bathroom door after getting no response, and saw Klein staring into the mirror. She told the court he didn’t answer her.
The workers testified Klein cleared his belongings out of his locker and left.
Under cross examination, Desjarlais testified she was concerned Klein was experiencing psychosis. When asked by Klein’s lawyer, Cave testified she doesn’t remember whether any mental health services were made available to Klein during his time at the shelter.
Earlier this year, the BC Review Board found Klein fit to stand trial. Last year, the board heard he had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and had been hearing voices.
In January, the accused’s lawyer reported his mental state had improved significantly, and there was a change in his medication.
The trial continues Wednesday.