No evidence presented in defence of man accused in B.C. high school stabbing

NEW WESTMINSTER, B.C. — The defence lawyer for a man accused in the stabbing death of a 13-year-old girl in Abbotsford, B.C., says no evidence will be called in his defence.

The move surprised Crown prosecutors and drew murmurs from gallery.

Twenty-four-year-old Gabriel Klein, who has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder and aggravated assault, occasionally looked up at the ceiling, down at the floor and back into the gallery from the prisoner’s box.

“We won’t be calling any evidence,” his lawyer, Martin Peters said Monday, in place of the opening argument he was expected to deliver.

“The defence case is now closed.”

Letisha Reimer was killed in the attack and another girl whose identity is protected by a publication ban was injured.

The court had previously heard that Klein’s defence would be that he is not criminally responsible for the attack because of a mental disorder.

Klein was held in a forensic psychiatric hospital following the stabbings until he was found mentally fit to stand trial earlier this year.

Crown attorney Rob Macgowan said the prosecution was not expecting to begin final arguments Monday and would need more time to prepare.

“Certainly, this comes as somewhat of a surprise to the Crown,” he said before the court took a break so the legal teams could discuss possible dates to reconvene.

Closing arguments have now been scheduled to begin Dec. 16. Although two more weeks had been set aside for the trial, Macgowan said arguments should wrap up within three days, “given that the issues in the case have obviously been narrowed significantly.”

The trial is being heard by judge alone.

Klein is accused of walking through a public library connected with the Abbotsford Senior Secondary School library and stabbing the girls on Nov. 1, 2016.

The trial has heard that an Abbotsford shelter provided Klein with a map to the library so he could email his mother.

The unnamed girl testified in a video statement played in October that she and Reimer were in the rotunda of the school that day. She was writing out Christian music lyrics while Reimer took photos to post on social media later.

The girl told the court she ran into a classroom and only remembers Reimer screaming, not the pain from her own stab wounds.

The court was also shown a video taken by a student from the third floor overlooking the rotunda, where a man is seen repeatedly stabbing a screaming girl on the floor, with a patch of blood behind her. The man is seen walking backwards away from her after the knife falls to the floor.

Two witnesses testified in October that they saw Klein walking near the school in the hours before the stabbings. He was grunting loudly, making high-pitched noises and seemed to be in distress, they said.

Klein had been held at the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital in Coquitlam since the death, but he was deemed mentally fit to stand trial on the charges in January.

Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes allowed him to stay at the hospital instead of being transferred to a pre-trial centre so he could continue being treated for schizophrenia, auditory hallucinations and paranoid delusions.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 9, 2019.

Amy Smart, The Canadian Press

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