Gabriel Klein, charged with the 2016 stabbing death of Letisha Reimer and the aggravated assault of her friend. (Handout)

B.C. judge to rule in February in case of murdered high school student

Closing arugments wrap up in the second-degree murder trial of Gabriel Klein

The fate of a man charged with second-degree murder in the stabbing death of a student inside a B.C. high school now rests with a judge who is being urged by a defence lawyer to find his client guilty of manslaughter.

Martin Peters said in closing arguments Wednesday that Gabriel Klein did not have the intent to kill a 13-year-old girl on Nov. 1, 2016, when he walked into the rotunda of Abbotsford Secondary School.

Letisha Reimer died after being stabbed 14 times and her friend, who was also stabbed, suffered serious injuries, for which Klein has been charged with aggravated assault.

Peters said the Crown has proven its case in the assault against the girl whose name is under a publication ban, and Klein should be found guilty.

However, he told Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes of the B.C. Supreme Court that there is reasonable doubt related to the murder charge because his client exhibited odd behaviour and mental distress beforehand, suggesting he did not intentionally plan to kill anyone but only bring about his own death.

Surveillance videos seen in court showed Klein stealing alcohol from a liquor store and a hunting knife from a sporting goods store hours before the attack, and Peters said his client committed the thefts because he wanted to get drunk and use the weapon to stab a police officer in hopes of triggering a suicide-by-cop scenario.

Crown attorney Rob Macgowan said in his closing argument this week that Klein faked symptoms of a mental disorder after his arrest in order to be found not criminally responsible of the crimes and even told a psychiatrist who assessed him at a hospital that his lawyer would use that as a defence.

RELATED: Man knew repeated stabbing could kill girl at Abbotsford school, Crown says

Peters said Wednesday that his client may simply have been parroting what he heard from other inmates in a cell block at the courthouse after they heard about his involvement in the high-profile case.

“That doesn’t suggest manipulation or planning or scheming to obtain a psychiatric disorder,” he told Holmes, who has heard the trial without jury and is expected to announce her ruling on Feb. 21.

Peters noted that a member of an emergency-room security team testified in October that Klein was not responding to her questions and made odd facial expressions as she tried to talk to him two days before the attacks, when he asked her to call his mother in Edmonton.

He said that while the security-team employee had nothing to gain from her testimony, a social worker from the ER who testified Klein showed no signs of psychological distress that day may have been concerned about the hospital’s liability because it let a “killer go out into the night” instead of treating him.

Peters said his client’s mental capacity was impaired slightly by alcohol on the day of the stabbings because 2.8 ounces of rum were missing from a bottle he’d stolen and his blood-alcohol level suggested he’d consumed the alcohol.

He said Klein was experiencing “mental dysfunction” when he told hospital staff after the attacks that he thought Reimer was a “shape-shifting witch” when he approached the girls sitting on chairs and the other girl was a “monster with maggots coming out of her back.”

Macgowan said during his closing arguments this week that both the Crown and the defence had agreed that Klein would either be found guilty of second-degree murder or manslaughter, though he said the greater charge would suit the circumstances because the accused was not experiencing a mental disorder at the time of the attacks.

The court earlier heard Klein’s defence would be not criminally responsible because of a mental disorder but Peters did not call any evidence on that this week.

He said Wednesday that Klein was diagnosed with schizophrenia at a forensic psychiatric hospital in June 2017 and has been receiving treatment.

“Schizophrenia is variable in its onset,” he said. “It’s not like turning on a light switch, and it comes in bits and pieces.”

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Coastal GasLink stresses pipeline ‘on a schedule’ as B.C. appoints liaison for Wet’suwet’en

670-kilometre pipeline is schedule to be completed by end of 2023

Jonathan Dieleman announces his retirement from competitive swimming

The Bulkey Valley paralympic swimmer made the announcement early Monday morning.

Witset chosen for housing innovation funding program

Proposal to build healing lodge for at-risk youth one of four selected in B.C.

Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation and hereditary chiefs agree to future meeting

Scott Fraser was in Smithers on Jan. 22 and spoke with Office of the Wet’suwet’en representatives

Unist’ot’en Camp say RCMP have changed 27 kilometre roadblock rules

Footage shows RCMP telling an unidentified lawyer they can’t re-enter the checkpoint

VIDEO: Canada’s first presumptive case of coronavirus officially confirmed

Both patient and wife arrived on a China Southern Airlines flight after having been to Wuhan

First-place Canucks beat Blues 3-1 for ninth straight home win

Miller nets pair as Vancouver defeats Cup champs

Swapping grape varieties can help winemakers adapt to climate change: UBC study

Report says 56% of wine-grape-growing regions would be lost if global climate warms by 2 C

Alberta premier wants feds to approve Teck mine for benefit of First Nations

Kenney: ‘Surely [reconciliation] means saying yes to economic development for First Nations people’

Police search for man who went missing from Vernon hotel

Jay Rosenberger, 38, was last seen Friday

NDP suggests easing secondary housing rules for B.C. farmland

Lana Popham proposes guest homes not just for relatives

After four sexual assaults in the same B.C. park, RCMP ask women not to walk alone

Four sexual assaults took place in Glen Park over two months

BC Place lights up in purple and yellow to honour Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter and seven others were killed in a helicopter crash

Whistleblower says Iranian-Americans questioned at Peace Arch crossing were targeted

Immigration lawyer says response from Customs Border Protection is a ‘total cover up’

Most Read