Man guilty of murder, aggravated assault in B.C. high school stabbings

NEW WESTMINSTER, B.C. — A judge who found a man guilty of second-degree murder and aggravated assault in an attack on two B.C. high school students says there is no evidence that Gabriel Klein’s mental health affected his ability to foresee the consequences of his actions.

Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes of the B.C. Supreme Court said Klein had no reason to harm the two girls at Abbotsford Secondary School on Nov. 1, 2016, and that his conduct was “incomprehensible.”

“His mental state at the time of the attack can have extremely little weight,” she said in delivering her verdict on Friday.

Defence lawyer Martin Peters had argued in December that Klein, who was 21 at the time of the attack, did not have the intent to kill 13-year-old Letisha Reimer when he walked into the school’s rotunda.

He urged Holmes to find his client guilty of manslaughter.

Peters argued there was reasonable doubt related to the murder charge because his client exhibited odd behaviour and mental distress beforehand, suggesting he did not intentionally plan to kill anyone.

He said in his closing arguments the Crown proved its case in the assault against the girl whose name is under a publication ban, and Klein should be found guilty on that charge.

Reimer died after being stabbed 14 times and her friend, who was also stabbed, suffered serious injuries.

Surveillance videos played during the trial showed Klein stealing alcohol from a liquor store and a hunting knife from a sporting goods store hours before the attack. Peters said his client committed the thefts because he wanted to get drunk and use the weapon to stab a police officer in hopes of triggering a suicide-by-cop scenario.

Holmes said Klein ”adroitly stole bottles of rum from the liquor stole” and the knife, asking store clerks where the items were located and going directly to them. When he walked into the rotunda, he had the knife out of the packaging and under his clothing, the judge said.

She said Klein quickly moved to attack Reimer after her friend escaped.

There is “abundant” evidence showing Klein acted with “purpose and foresight” in the lead up to the attack, Holmes said.

He was diagnosed with schizophrenia at a forensic psychiatric hospital in June 2017 and has been receiving treatment but was deemed mentally fit to stand trial.

Klein’s diagnosis of schizophrenia is “unchallenged,” said Holmes.

Sentencing has been scheduled for two days, starting June 1, when victim impact statements will be heard by the court. The sentence for second-degree murder is life in prison with the earliest chance of parole set at 10 years.

Crown attorney Rob Macgowan said in his closing argument that Klein faked symptoms of a mental disorder after his arrest in order to be found not criminally responsible of the crimes and even told a psychiatrist who assessed him at a hospital that his lawyer would use that as a defence.

Holmes said there was no evidence that the strange behaviour and sounds exhibited by Klein in the hours before the attack indicated a mental condition, but that doesn’t mean they were “deliberately feigned.”

Dave Teixeira, a spokesman for Reimer’s family, said the family was relieved by the verdict.

“This is just one more step in the journey,” he said outside court.

He read a statement from Ellie Reimer about the loss of her daughter, which said: “The people who are serving the sentence are those of us who no longer have Letisha in our lives.”

Peters said his client will “have a life sentence, no matter what,” but Holmes will look at a Gladue report to address the number of years Klein has to serve before he is eligible for parole. The report reviews the circumstances of Klein’s upbringing and Metis heritage, Peters said.

Klein was born in Winnipeg and had a “troubled upbringing” with his parents separating when he was a young teenager, he said, adding that his client moved to Alberta and grew up in Red Deer and Edmonton.

Klein will be sent to the regional assessment centre when he is sentenced and his mental health will be evaluated, Peters said.

“I’m hoping that he obtains a disposition which keeps him in a psychiatric facility,” he said.

“He is schizophrenic. A mental health facility will be a far better setting for him.”

He said Klein is remorseful.

“It’s an extraordinary thing to kill someone and to have to live with that,” Peters said.

“And he does live with it every day.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 6, 2020.

Hina Alam, The Canadian Press

crime

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Only 13 new COVID-19 cases confirmed by Alberta gov’t Saturday

There’s currently only two active cases in province’s central zone

Food Truck Fridays to start new Drive and Dash events next week

Events will be held in Westerner Park parking lot Thursday evenings, Friday afternoons all June

Alberta gov’t to expand mental health supports

The Government of Alberta says a $21.6-million investment will expand online resources… Continue reading

City of Red Deer encouraged residents to participate in Food Bank Ninja Challenge

The City of Red Deer is encouraging residents to participate in a… Continue reading

READER VIDEO: American White Pelicans spotted in Red Deer River

A Red Deer Advocate reader spotted a group of American White Pelicans… Continue reading

Protesters rally in Toronto against anti-black, Indigenous racism

TORONTO — Thousands of people are taking part in a rally on… Continue reading

Another COVID-19 case reported in northern New Brunswick on Saturday

CAMPBELLTON, N.B. — People from a city in northern New Brunswick lined… Continue reading

B.C. sees second day in a row with no COVID-19 deaths as schools ready to reopen

VICTORIA — British Columbia announced no new deaths from COVID-19 for the… Continue reading

UN sets pandemic voting rules for Canada’s Security Council campaign

OTTAWA — The United Nations has confirmed that the election for non-permanent… Continue reading

Police watchdog investigating death of Richmond man

RICHMOND, B.C. — British Columbia’s police watchdog has been called in to… Continue reading

COVID-19 cancelled their wedding plans, so they married on a B.C. mountaintop

Ceremony was live streamed to friends and family around the world

Tooting the importance of whistling

OK, so someone who tattles on another person is a whistleblower, and… Continue reading

Police see increase in speedy drivers on quieter streets during pandemic

Police across the country say they’ve been dealing with more complaints about loud, fast vehicles

Most Read