Mental illness defence relies on accused’s word that he saw monsters: Crown News Staff

NEW WESTMINSTER — A Crown prosecutor says there’s no reliable evidence to support an argument that a man who stabbed two high school girls in Abbotsford, B.C., was having a psychotic break and didn’t realize they were human. 

Gabriel Klein was convicted of second-degree murder and aggravated assault in March for the 2016 attack that killed 13-year-old Letisha Reimer and injured her friend. 

Closing arguments are underway in a hearing in which Klein’s lawyer has argued his client should not be held criminally responsible for the crimes because he suffered a mental disorder that led him to believe he was stabbing monsters.

However, Crown prosecutor Rob Macgowan says the judge hearing the case would have to take Klein’s word for it in order to rule in his favour.

Macgowan says any evidence that Klein did not realize he was stabbing two screaming girls at the high school is based only on what Klein has said. 

He says it doesn’t matter if some experts have said they accept Klein’s claim about what he saw, because those beliefs are still based primarily on what Klein told them.

Macgowan says the judge would have to conclude Klein had a psychotic illness at the time of the stabbings and then would have to accept Klein’s own evidence of his perceptions that day. 

“Because if you don’t accept Klein’s word for it, we submit that all you would be left with is the same body of evidence upon which he was found guilty of murder and aggravated assault.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 14, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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