Montreal

Luka Magnotta refused to meet with Crown’s psychiatrist

The psychiatrist hired by the Crown to give a second opinion on Luka Magnotta’s mental state was unable to provide a definitive diagnosis because Magnotta refused to meet with him, the first-degree murder trial heard on Tuesday.
Luka Magnotta told a Montreal psychiatrist he was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia as a teenager, but claimed that diagnosis was fuelled by his cocaine use and that the diagnosis was later amended to bipolar disorder.

The psychiatrist hired by the Crown to give a second opinion on Luka Magnotta’s mental state was unable to provide a definitive diagnosis because Magnotta refused to meet with him, the first-degree murder trial heard on Tuesday.

Dr. Gilles Chamberland is expected to be the prosecution’s final rebuttal witness, those who are being called to counter the defence assertion that Magnotta is not criminally responsible due to mental illness.

Chamberland told the court, as many other psychiatrists have also testified, that Magnotta’s is a very complex case to study.

“I think we can create a psychiatry course with only this case,”  Chamberland said, adding that there’s not only a question of schizophrenia, but also bipolar and personality disorders, the possibility drugs played a role in the psychosis, and the chance Magnotta is simulating his symptoms.

The psychiatrist sees two options in his analysis of Magnotta’s behaviour.

The first is that the accused suffers from schizophrenia and that explains his behaviour throughout his life.

The second option is that Magnotta was hospitalized in his late teens because he was taking drugs that simulated signs of schizophrenia, when in fact, he actually suffers from various personality disorders and is simply faking psychotic symptoms.

The second hypothesis, Chamberland testified, is the one that explains the situation “much more easily.”

The court will hear more from Chamberland on Wednesday, along with details from his nine-page report that has been submitted as evidence.

Magnotta has admitted to committing the acts, including killing Lin, but he has pleaded not guilty to the five criminal charges laid against him due to mental illness.

The Crown alleges the killing was planned.

Personality disorder diagnosis before killing

Earlier in the day, the court heard from the last psychiatrist to see Magnotta before Jun Lin was killed. Dr. Joel Paris said he found no signs of schizophrenia or psychosis during an hour-long assessment at Montreal’s Jewish General Hospital’s outpatient psychiatry clinic.

Paris, who did not have access to the accused’s previous medical records, diagnosed Magnotta as having a borderline personality disorder, with unstable moods and relationships.

“There was no evidence of an extended period of psychosis or chronic psychosis,” Paris told the court, adding that what he heard from Magnotta did not justify a diagnosis of schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.

During the April 2012 visit, Magnotta talked of being anxious, but he denied experiencing psychotic symptoms and only told the psychiatrist he was “paranoid about getting fat.”

He complained of impulsive behaviour, mood swings marked by highs and lows over several days, and chronic feelings of emptiness.

He also talked of compulsively pulling out his hair, causing bald spots.

Magnotta told Paris that he had been hospitalized four times as a teenager and that he had initially been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.

But Magnotta claimed the previous diagnosis was fuelled by his cocaine use at the time and that it was later amended to bipolar disorder.

Paris told the court he’s still not sure why Magnotta came to the outpatient clinic that day.

“Maybe what we offered him did not correspond to what he was looking for,” Paris testified.

Diagnosis questioned

Under cross-examination, defence lawyer Luc Leclair suggested Paris has a bias towards diagnosing borderline personality disorder because that’s his specialty.

Leclair also accused Paris of dismissing schizophrenia without looking for the symptoms, a charge the doctor denied.

The psychiatrist admitted his diagnosis was tentative, as are all diagnoses after only one visit, he said.

Paris was the first of the Crown’s rebuttal witnesses to testify, followed closely by two police officers who testified that Magnotta’s phone records show he was looking to buy marijuana in the weeks before the killing.

Det-Sgt. Francis Derome, a street drugs expert with the Montreal police department, testified the text messages show Magnotta used cannabis, but not other drugs.

Earlier in the day, the defence officially rested its case after hearing from its 12th witness, the lead police investigator who handled the case.

Magnotta chose not to testify in his defence.

The judge has previously told the jury they could begin deliberating sometime in early December.

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