British Columbia

Accused murderer was released from Abbotsford hospital days before teen's stabbing

A man on trial for the murder of a 13-year-old girl in 2016 was assessed and released from Abbotsford Regional Hospital two days before the killing.

Defence lawyer suggests hospital is concerned about having assessed and released Gabriel Klein

Gabriel Klein is seen on security camera video taken on Nov. 1, 2016, hours before he stabbed two female students at a high school in Abbotsford, B.C. Klein is seeking to be found not criminally responsible by reason of a mental disorder. (IHIT/Twitter)

A man on trial for the murder of 13-year-old Letisha Reimer in 2016 was assessed and released from Abbotsford Regional Hospital two days before the killing.

A B.C. Supreme Court judge heard testimony Tuesday from a security guard who spoke with Gabriel Klein in the hospital emergency room and the social worker who later got him a cab to a homeless shelter on the evening of Oct. 30, 2016.

The two women gave very different accounts of their encounters with the 21-year-old who would kill Letisha Reimer and gravely injure another student in the halls of Abbotsford Senior Secondary two days later.

The security guard said Klein left her with a "weird feeling" and claimed to be in pain. 

The social worker said he appeared calm and made eye contact as they spoke.

Both women also happened to be in the hospital two days later, when Klein was held in restraints and surrounded by police in the aftermath of the tragedy.

'Treated and released' 2 days before murder

The social worker — Faye Reglin — said the hospital's risk manager spoke with her prior to her testimony. She said the risk management team wanted to advise her on courtroom dress and demeanour.

But Klein's lawyer, Martin Peters, suggested the team may have been more concerned about liability.

Gabriel Klein was assessed and discharged from Abbotsford Regional Hospital two days before the stabbing death of 13-year-old Letisha Reimer. A social worker directed him to a homeless shelter. (CBC)

He questioned Reglin repeatedy about worries she and the hospital might have had about sending Klein to a homeless shelter without seeing a psychiatrist, days before the killing.

"I asked if it was a concern of yours that Mr. Klein had been treated and released from hospital two days before he murdered Letisha Reimer," Peters asked.

Reglin said it wasn't her job to discharge patients.

Klein was caught on camera stabbing Reimer. The Crown and the defence agree that he wielded the knife that killed the teenager and wounded her friend.

But Klein — who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia — plans to argue that he should not be held criminally responsible for either attack because of a mental disorder.

He showed up at Abbotsford Regional Hospital a few hours after he was released from the custody of the Canada Border Services Agency for crossing into the United States without any identification.

'He sounded pained'

Security guard Kylee Evanuk was working as an "ER ambassador" when she spotted the tall young man lying on top of a huge backpack in the emergency room. 

"The knapsack was on the bench, and then he was laying face down on top of the knapsack and he looked like he was in some kind of pain," she said.

In the days after the stabbings, friends of Letisha Reimer built a memorial for the 13-year-old student who was fatally stabbed at Abbotsford Senior Secondary, (Dennis Dossman/CBC)

Evanuk said she tried to speak to Klein but he didn't respond. She later saw him walk toward the exit and tried again. She said Klein was clutching his abdomen.

"He said to me that he was really sick. He really wasn't feeling well, that he didn't know what he was going to do, that he had no money, that he had to get in contact with his mother, that he was trying to get back to Alberta," she said.

"He sounded pained in the tone of his voice. He didn't really follow normal social cues."

Evanuk said she spoke with a triage nurse who assured her Klein wasn't a suicide risk. Evanuk also let him use her phone to try to call his mother, but there was no answer.

'He didn't speak of being in any pain'

Reglin said she first laid eyes on Klein as he lay on an upright bed in an emergency room a few hours later.

A doctor told her Klein had been assessed for scratches on his arms he got working on a chicken farm; he needed help finding shelter.

A makeshift memorial at Abbotsford Senior Secondary on Nov 2, 2016, the day after the stabbing death of 13-year-old Letisha Reimer. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

According to a triage note later read in court, Klein also complained that his spine was swollen and that he had an inability to plan.

"He didn't speak of being in any pain or distress," Reglin recalled. "He sat very calmly, making good eye contact."

Reglin said Klein said he had been robbed of his identification and his money. He wanted bus fare back to Edmonton.

The social worker said she gave Klein a bagged lunch and helped him call the Lookout shelter. She later watched him get into a cab.

'He had a blank look on his face'

The program co-ordinator at the shelter also testified on Tuesday about events on the morning of the killing, when Klein left the shelter. Andrea Desjarlais said he wanted to use her phone to call his mother.

But she said Klein's mother had already told her she only wanted to communicate with her son by email. Desjarlais said he also said he wanted to go back to Alberta immediately. She said it would take a few days.

Desjarlais said Klein got angry.

"He wanted it now. He wanted to leave now," she said.

He stormed out of her office and went to the locker room.

"It sounded like he hit the locker. There was a big bang and an echo," Desjarlais said. 

Klein then went into a bathroom where Desjarlais said it sounded like he was kicking the door from the inside. When he emerged, she said she tried to reassure him.

"He didn't react to me," she said. "He had a blank look on his face. There was no facial emotion."

Several hours later, Letisha Reimer would be dead.

And Gabriel Klein would be back at Abbotsford Regional Hospital.

Faye Reglin was called in on her day off because of a "traumatic tragedy." A police officer and physician asked her if she could identify the young man who she had assisted two days earlier.

She said Klein was under guard, lying still, staring at the ceiling. She identified him and gave a police statement.

Crown counsel Rob Macgowan asked her about her emotional state.

"I was trying to fit the puzzle together," she said. "I was tired. I was confused."