Magnotta requests trial by judge and jury
Suspect in Jun Lin killing doesn't ask for psychiatric evaluation
Luka Rocco Magnotta, accused of killing and dismembering Chinese student Jun Lin, has asked a Quebec court for a trial by judge and jury, but didn't request a psychiatric assessment, as some expected he would.
Magnotta appeared in person at the Montreal courthouse on Thursday, with only seven journalists allowed inside the room for his brief hearing.
The accused has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder and four other charges in Lin's grisly killing. The 33-year-old permanent Canadian resident died May 24 or 25.
Magnotta is accused of mailing Lin's body parts to different places including the Ottawa offices of the Conservative Party of Canada, the Liberal Party of Canada and two Vancouver schools. He is also accused of posting a video of the events on the internet.
Luc Leclair, a prominent Toronto lawyer, has joined Magnotta's defence team, and requested his client be transferred from detention to attend the Thursday hearing.
Wearing a short-sleeved plaid shirt and blue jeans, Magnotta, 29, stood inside the glass-panelled prisoner's box flanked by two guards as his lawyers spoke to the judge.
His lawyers requested a trial by judge and jury, while the prosecution asked for a publication ban on details of Magnotta's prescription medication.
Leclair told the judge he's concerned about Magnotta physical and mental well-being, and that his client needs access to his medication.
The charges he faces also include defiling Lin's corpse, harassing Prime Minister Stephen Harper and members of Parliament, and publishing and mailing obscene material.
The defence didn't ask for a psychological assessment, which would have evaluated whether Magnotta is apt to be tried.
Magnotta's original defence lawyer, Pierre Panaccio, said earlier this week he'd consider the option of a psychiatric evaluation request.
Magnotta 'trusts' Canadian legal system
After the court appearance, Leclair spoke to reporters outside the Montreal courthouse.
He thanked Berlin authorities for taking "exemplary care" of his client, and explained Magnotta waived his rights to contest extradition "because he wanted to come back to Montreal."
"He trusts the Canadian judicial system," Leclair said.
Magnotta's 10-day preliminary hearing, scheduled for March 2013, will be preceded by a pre-trial hearing in January.
A representative for the Crown prosecution office said a March 2013 preliminary hearing is relatively soon, given courthouse constraints and judge availability.
The Crown and defence previously agreed to set a date for his preliminary hearing, in order to avoid another court event.
Victim's family travelled to Montreal
Magnotta was extradited from Germany to Montreal aboard a Canadian Forces aircraft on June 18, surrounded by heavy security detail that included local police investigators, RCMP officers and Canadian Border Services authorities.
His extradition came two weeks after his June 4 arrest in Berlin at a cybercafé, where an employee recognized him from Interpol-issued photos.
The international police agency orchestrated a global manhunt for Magnotta after Montreal police issued a warrant for his arrest.
Magnotta is currently being held at a detention centre in Rivières-des-Prairies, a borough on the eastern edge of the island of Montreal.
Jun Lin's torso was found in a suitcase outside an apartment in Montreal on May 29, the same day his hand and foot were mailed to the Ottawa offices of the federal Conservative and Liberal parties.
His other hand and foot were discovered by staff opening packages at two schools in Vancouver several days later.
Lin's family has travelled to Montreal from China to retrieve his remains. Lin's head has yet to be found nearly a month after his death.
The victim's family have kept a low profile since their arrival in Canada, and have expressed to police their great hope of retrieving Lin's missing head.
In an open letter published earlier this month, they called their adult son the family's "pride and joy."