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Judge to deliver verdict Thursday in Greyhound bus beheading case

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WINNIPEG - It's obvious to anyone who has heard details of how Vince Li killed and beheaded a fellow bus passenger that the accused was crazy and not criminally responsible, the Crown said Wednesday as Li's trial concluded.

Justice John Scurfield was to decide Thursday whether Li should be held accountable for attacking Tim McLean on a Greyhound bus last July, stabbing him dozens of times and dismembering his body. Both the Crown and the defence have argued Li can't be held responsible because he is mentally ill.

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In her closing arguments, Crown lawyer Joyce Dalmyn said the court didn't even need to hear from psychiatrists who testified Li didn't realize that killing and defiling McLean was wrong.

"He was out of touch with reality," Dalmyn said. "He believed God was telling him to kill the evil force beside him ... He could not differentiate between wrong and right."

Although McLean's family and friends want to see Li behind bars, Dalmyn said the Crown has little choice.

"Tim McLean suffered a horrendous death," Dalmyn said. "But the horror of his case does not allow the Crown to abandon its duty to the court.

"The Crown cannot ask the court to convict Mr. Li of second-degree murder when all the evidence points to the fact that he is not criminally responsible."

A psychiatrist called by the defence Wednesday echoed earlier testimony from a Crown psychiatrist that Li, 40, heard the voice of God telling him to kill McLean or risk being killed himself.

Dr. Jonathan Rootenberg said the attack was sudden and came as Li caught a glimpse of sunlight and heard God's voice telling him that McLean was a threat.

The voice said, 'Do it now ... If you don't, he's going to kill you,"' Rootenberg said.

Li was psychotic and unable to know that stabbing and beheading McLean, 22, was wrong, he added.

"It wasn't his hands doing that," he said. "It was God's hands and God doing that through him."

Rootenberg said Li suffers from schizophrenia and was not criminally responsible for the slaying.

Li has admitted he killed McLean and then defiled his body, but has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder.

An agreed statement of facts read out in court Tuesday detailed how Li attacked McLean "for no apparent reason" and ignored other horrified passengers as he repeatedly stabbed the young man, who unsuccessfully fought for his life.

When the bus pulled over near Portage la Prairie, Man., Li was engrossed with stabbing and mutilating McLean's body. Passengers fled the bus and stood outside.

It was then that Li tried numerous times to leave the bus. But he was locked inside and, according to the statement, returned to McLean's body and methodically carved it up further.

Police said McLean's body parts were found throughout the bus in plastic bags, although part of his heart and both eyes were never found and were presumed eaten by Li.

The victim's ear, nose and tongue were found in Li's pocket.

Li tried to escape from the bus through a window and was taken into custody.

After that, blood smeared on his face from the attack, he politely apologized to police and pleaded with officers to take his life.

Crown psychiatrist, Dr. Stanley Yaren, testified that Li cut McLean's body up because he believed that killing him wasn't enough - that McLean would come back to life and exact revenge.

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