Luka Magnotta trial: Crown highlights questions psychiatrist failed to ask

Crown prosecutor Louis Bouthillier spent his second day cross-examining a psychiatrist hired by the defence to assess Luka Magnotta’s criminal responsibility by bombarding the witness with questions that remain unanswered.

Dr. Joel Watts asked why he never asked Magnotta about deleted computer files, overturned mattress

Luka Magnotta was arrested in June 2012, one month after the death of Concordia University student Jun Lin. His trial is now underway in Montreal. (CBC)

Crown prosecutor Louis Bouthillier spent his second day cross-examining a psychiatrist hired by the defence to assess Luka Magnotta’s state of mind when he killed a man in his Montreal apartment by bombarding the doctor with questions that remain unanswered.

Dr. Joel Watts submitted a 124-page report that concludes the 32-year-old is not criminally responsible for killing and dismembering Concordia University student Jun Lin, 33, in May 2012. He is the second psychiatrist hired by the defence to come to that conclusion.

Today at the trial being held at the Montreal courthouse, the Crown focused on what’s not in Watts's report, with the prosecutor asking the doctor if he had asked Magnotta detailed questions.

The psychiatrist testified that he had not asked about certain facts — including what happened to the accused's Canadian passport, why Magnotta bought new sheets and turned over the mattress in his apartment, or why he deleted from his computer photos, videos and the song used in an online video that showed some of the crimes committed against Lin.

“Didn’t you think it was relevant that three days after a body is found in Montreal, he deleted some information that could get him in trouble?” Bouthillier asked.

Watts responded it could be relevant, but he pointed out that there is other incriminating evidence, such as surveillance video that shows Magnotta was coming in and out of the apartment building the night Lin was killed.

The psychiatrist stressed that he was concentrating on evaluating the accused’s mental state and not looking at the story as an investigator.

The Crown also noted the questions that Watts did ask about the night Lin was killed were not answered by Magnotta.

Magnotta told the doctor he couldn’t recall certain facts about the crimes he committed, including how the camera that recorded the acts ended up in the trash, or how the video was edited and uploaded.

Watts explained memory gaps are common in patients suffering from psychosis, particularly when talking about a traumatic event.

'Manny' and phone records

Bouthillier noted the psychiatric report includes numerous mentions of a man named Manny, who Magnotta said kept calling him the night Lin was killed.

The court has not heard evidence that Manny is a real person and several psychiatrists, including Watts, believe he may be real but later became central to the accused’s hallucinations.

The prosecutor asked why Watts did not cross-reference Magnotta’s phone records to check whether Manny had called repeatedly that night.

Watts admitted that it would have been a good idea, but said that it had never crossed his mind to verify the phone records.

Magnotta wanted to buy marijuana

The Crown also produced a text message log from the month before the killing, which shows Magnotta was attempting to buy marijuana.

Watts testified it was the first time he had seen those specific messages, but said it was not incompatible with his evaluation of the accused.

The report states that Magnotta did not use drugs on a regular basis.

Watts will be back on the stand Wednesday as his cross-examination continues.

Magnotta has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him, owing to his mental illness, but has admitted to the physical acts behind the charges.

He is facing a total of five charges, including first-degree murder, committing an indignity to a body, mailing obscene material, publishing obscene material and criminally harassing Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and several members of Parliament.

The trial, now in its eighth week, is being held in front of a jury.