MONTREAL — Luka Rocco Magnotta made a brief appearance in a Montreal courtroom Thursday — and he will now vanish from public view until 2013.
The accused body-parts killer had court dates set for early next year and was told he will face a preliminary hearing next March where evidence against him will be disclosed.
He did not ask for a psychiatric evaluation, as expected.
There was one other surprise: Magnotta appeared in court in person. Authorities had hinted that the 29-year-old murder suspect would appear by video link, as he did at his first court appearance earlier this week.
Magnotta stood in a pen behind thick glass panels inside the courtroom. He was flanked by two guards and a third one stood nearby. Four other guards stood outside the prisoner’s box, around the courtroom.
While Magnotta looked sleepy, he appeared to follow the proceedings attentively. Wearing a plaid shirt and blue jeans, Magnotta kept his eyes on the judge during the brief appearance.
Magnotta is accused of the first-degree murder of university student Jun Lin, along with defiling his corpse. He is also charged with harassing Prime Minister Stephen Harper and MPs, and publishing and mailing obscene material. He has pleaded not guilty.
Magnotta will be represented by several lawyers, the court heard Thursday. A man who acted as his lawyer earlier this week had suggested he might seek a psychiatric evaluation.
Instead, he had court dates set for his criminal case. His next appearance will be in early 2013, with a preliminary hearing scheduled for March.
Magnotta’s legal team will comprise Jean Dury and Pierre Panaccio, who will assist Toronto lawyer Luc Leclair. Leclair said he’d received special dispensation from the Quebec bar to represent Magnotta in the case.
Leclair told Quebec Court Judge Jean-Pierre Boyer that he had concerns his client wasn’t receiving proper care.
“I want to express my concern for his physical well-being and his mental well-being,” Leclerc said.
The judge agreed to make a request to ensure that medication was being given to Magnotta — but he placed a publication ban on the type of medication.
Magnotta is accused of mailing Lin’s body parts to such places as the Ottawa offices of the Conservative and Liberal Parties and two Vancouver schools.
He is also accused of posting a video of the gruesome events on the Internet.
Magnotta arrived in Canada on Monday, shackled and surrounded by heavy security as he was returned from Germany aboard a military plane.
The accused was initially supposed to appear Thursday via video from an eastern Montreal detention centre, as he did for Tuesday’s appearance. Instead, he appeared in person in a heavily fortified courtroom.
Twelve journalists, including two sketch artists, sat in the gallery. There didn’t appear to be any members of the public present.