British Columbia

Gabriel Klein found guilty of 2nd-degree murder in 13-year-old Letisha Reimer's stabbing death

A B.C. judge has ruled that Gabriel Klein is guilty of murder for stabbing a 13-year-old girl to death at an Abbotsford high school despite his lawyer arguing he should be found guilty of a lesser charge of manslaughter.

Klein's lawyer had argued he should be found guilty of lesser charge of manslaughter

Letisha Reimer, 13, died after being stabbed at a school in Abbotsford, B.C., in 2016. (Ulrich Reimer/Facebook)

UPDATE, May 26, 2020: The sentencing hearing for Gabriel Klein has been postponed to Sept. 23, 2020, due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Gabriel Klein has been found guilty of second-degree murder for stabbing a 13-year-old girl to death at a Fraser Valley high school.

Letisha Reimer was killed in the hallway of Abbotsford Senior Secondary School on Nov. 1, 2016. A second girl was stabbed in the same attack, and suffered a collapsed right lung and slashes to her liver.

B.C. Supreme Court Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes delivered her decision Friday morning.

Klein was charged with one count of second-degree murder and one count of aggravated assault. Holmes found him guilty on both counts.

The fact that he stabbed both girls was never in question. Klein admitted the charge related to the surviving victim. But he claimed that he should be found guilty of manslaughter instead of second-degree murder.

The 24-year-old had originally intended to argue that he should not be held criminally responsible for the killing because of a mental disorder. He was diagnosed with schizophrenia after the attacks.

Holmes said she was tasked with deciding whether he had the "specific intent" needed to sustain a murder conviction.

Klein's lawyer argued that the 24-year-old was mentally disturbed at the time he attacked the two girls and that his judgment was impaired by alcohol and cannabis.

Gabriel Klein has been found guilty of second-degree murder after the judge rejected his argument of a mental disorder. (CBC)

On Friday he sat in the prisoner's dock wearing a green outfit and looked like he had gained weight since his arrest in 2016. His hair was curly and bushy, a contrast to the security images that were circulated from the day of the killing.

In her ruling, Holmes said Klein's statements made to police, doctors and corrections officers about his mental state at the time of the attack were inconsistent.

She told the court they "can have extremely little weight." The judge said he acted with purpose and there was nothing to show he wouldn't have known the consequences of his actions.

The stabbing happened as the two girls were studying in the hallways of Abbotsford Senior Secondary School. 

Klein had been staying at a homeless shelter at the time, and entered the school through a hallway connected to the library. Evidence in the case showed the killer stealing alcohol and a hunting knife in the hours before the attacks.

Several Abbotsford residents testified that they had called 911 after observing him walking through the streets and making strange noises.

Family and friends attend court to hear verdict

On Friday, around 60 people, including members of Reimer's family, sat in court to hear the verdict. Many of them were from Abbotsford Senior Secondary School.

Some people in the gallery wore shirts saying "Abby Strong."

Before the proceedings, a sheriff said Holmes had instructed people wearing those shirts to remove them or cover them up to maintain what she called the impartiality of the court process.

Klein stood as Holmes pronounced him guilty on both counts. Reimer's family, sitting in the front row of the courtroom, sobbed.

The second-degree murder conviction carries an automatic life sentence, but a sentencing hearing will be held starting June 1 to determine the length of time before Klein is eligible for parole.

The Crown also indicated that they will present a number of victim impact statements.

Outside the courtroom, Klein's lawyer said his client is remorseful and still struggling to deal with the enormity of the tragedy he wrought on the lives of a community of strangers.

With files from Jason Proctor