Judge begins delivering final instructions to jury at Luka Rocco Magnotta trial

The judge at Luka Rocco Magnotta's first-degree murder trial is delivering his final instructions to the jurors, reminding them that whatever verdict they reach must be unanimous.

MONTREAL — The judge at Luka Rocco Magnotta’s first-degree murder trial is delivering his final instructions to the jurors, reminding them that whatever verdict they reach must be unanimous.

Quebec Superior Court Justice Guy Cournoyer is telling them they must rely solely on the evidence they have heard since the trial began in late September.

Magnotta has pleaded not guilty to five charges stemming from the May 2012 slaying and dismemberment of Jun Lin, 33.

The jury will be required to render a verdict on each one.

The Crown has argued Magnotta should be found guilty of first-degree murder and the four other charges, while the defence says he should be found not criminally responsible by way of mental disorder.

Magnotta has admitted to the killing but psychiatrists for the defence testified he is schizophrenic, was psychotic the night of the slaying and was unable to tell right from wrong.

“Under our law, the verdict of not criminally responsible by reasons of mental disorder is not a loose term, quite the contrary,” Cournoyer said. “There are specific criteria to determine whether the defence of mental disorder is applicable.”

Crown prosecutor Louis Bouthillier reiterated in his final statement the crime was planned and deliberate and that there was no evidence Magnotta was suffering from a disease of the mind.

Cournoyer told the jury that Magnotta is presumed innocent, a presumption that remains unless the Crown proves its case beyond a reasonable doubt.

That burden of proof always rests with the prosecution and never shifts, he said, adding that a mental disorder defence requires the accused to meet certain standards.

“Mr. Magnotta must prove that it is more likely than not that he suffered from a mental disorder to such an extent at the time the offences were committed that he is not criminally responsible,” Cournoyer told the jury. “This is a lower standard than proof beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Cournoyer told the jurors they must not be influenced by public opinion and that they have to assess the information they have impartially and without sympathy, prejudice or fear.

In addition to premeditated murder, Magnotta is charged with criminally harassing Prime Minister Stephen Harper and other members of Parliament; mailing obscene and indecent material; committing an indignity to a body; and publishing obscene materials.

Fourteen jurors heard the evidence but two will be sent home once the judge’s instructions are complete.

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