Accused in bus slaying ordered to get psychiatric assessment
This story contains graphic content
An Edmonton man accused of killing a 22-year-old fellow passenger on a Greyhound bus travelling through southern Manitoba was ordered Tuesday to undergo a psychiatric evaluation.
Vince Weiguang Li, 40, is charged with second-degree murder in the death last Wednesday of Tim McLean, a Winnipeg man who had been working at a carnival in Edmonton.
According to court officials and reporters within earshot of the accused man, Li softly said "please kill me" during his brief appearance at midday Tuesday in a provincial court in Portage la Prairie, a city west of Winnipeg.
The judge did not acknowledge Li's words in any way.
The court appearance was temporarily delayed when the judge called a recess to give Li one last chance to speak with a lawyer.
As with his first court appearance, Li refused to speak to the judge. When the judge asked Li if he understood the seriousness of the crime, he nodded. When asked whether he wanted a lawyer, he fiercely shook his head.
The judge urged Li to get a lawyer and ordered a psychiatric assessment to determine whether he's fit to stand trial. Li is expected to see a psychiatrist on Thursday.
Details of arrest revealed
Also in court Tuesday, Crown attorney Joyce Dalmyn revealed graphic details obtained from lead RCMP investigators about the killing, including that the accused defiled and cannibalized the corpse.
The court heard that an hours-long standoff came to an end early Thursday when the accused broke a window, dropped scissors and a knife out of it and then leaped out of the window himself. He was then arrested by RCMP.
Dalmyn noted that witnesses said the attack appeared to be unprovoked.
Throughout the standoff, the only thing police heard from Li was the statement, "I have to stay on the bus forever," Dalmyn told the court.
She said Li did not say much to police in an interview following his arrest, but on four occasions he "in a very low tone of voice indicated that he is guilty."
Police are looking into information that Li may have spent as many as four days in a psychiatric facility prior to the attack, Dalmyn said. The accused man's behaviour was "bizarre" in the months before the attack, she said, noting that he took bus trips to several Canadian cities for no apparent reason.
Police said Li has no previous criminal record.
Local media have reported that Li, who is being held at the Winnipeg Remand Centre, has been on suicide watch and has not been communicating except by nodding or shaking his head.
During his first court appearance on Friday, Li silently stared at the ground, not responding to the judge when asked for a plea. He wasn't accompanied by a lawyer.
The Crown prosecutor has said that if Li decides not to get a lawyer, the court could appoint one or the case could proceed anyway.
Accused delivered papers
Li stands accused of repeatedly stabbing and then beheading McLean in an apparently unprovoked attack that made international headlines and sparked a debate about bus safety.
Before he boarded the Greyhound bus, Li sold his laptop to a 15-year-old Manitoba boy in Erickson for $60, the teen said Tuesday.
"He seemed like such a nice guy when I talked to him. He was not mean or fidgety or anything. He had, like, no emotion to him but he didn't seem like he was a very nasty guy. He just seemed calm and normal," Darren Beatty said.
Beatty said the computer contained resumes with the name Vince Weiguang Li at the top. There were also photos of fighter jets and Chinese women models. The teen has since handed the computer over to police.
Other details about the accused emerged late last week, including that he had worked at McDonald's and delivered newspapers for several publications in Edmonton, where he had lived for the past few years. McDonald's Canada representatives have said Li is not a former employee, adding the company has no record of him working at any of its restaurants.
It appears Li was an employee in the automotive department at a Wal-Mart in Edmonton, where employees described him as a man of few words.
"He was just a good worker, and quiet," an employee who didn't give her name said while stocking shelves on Tuesday.
A Winnipeg pastor who knew Li expressed shock at the charges, describing him as a nice, hard-working man.
Pastor Tom Castor said Li never showed any sign of anger or emotional problems. Li had come to Canada with his wife, Anna, to seek a new life, Castor said.
It was revealed in court Tuesday that Li came to Canada in 2001 and became a citizen in 2007.
With files from the Canadian Press