Li murder trial begins this morning


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Vincent Li will begin his second-degree murder trial this morning under a thick security blanket prompted by ongoing fears of vigilante justice.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 03/03/2009 (5143 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Vincent Li will begin his second-degree murder trial this morning under a thick security blanket prompted by ongoing fears of vigilante justice.

Police are expected to be out in full force to ensure the case which has received international attention goes off without a hitch.

Li has been the subject of numerous death threats since he allegedly stabbed, beheaded and cannibalized 22-year-old Winnipeg resident Tim McLean on board a Greyhound bus last July. His trial was moved from Portage la Prairie because of ongoing security concerns.

Although law enforcement officials wouldn’t reveal their specific plans, sources told the Free Press there will be a heavy police presence both inside and outside the courthouse. The comprehensive security plan has been in the works for several months.



Police are especially concerned that someone may try to make a name for him- or herself by going after Li, who attracted worldwide outrage with the unprovoked killing of the sleeping McLean in front of three dozen horrified witnesses. A Google search reveals nearly 100,000 online entries under his name, including many which call for him to be executed and for Canada to bring back capital punishment.

Li will be kept a safe distance from the public, including being brought to court through an underground tunnel that connects the Law Courts building and the Remand Centre. Everyone who sits in the courtroom will have been subjected to mandatory x-ray screening and an optional pat-down search. All bags will be checked and plainclothes officers are expected to be inside the courtroom and throughout the building.

The trial is slated to begin at 10 a.m. with Crown and defence lawyers expected to make a lengthy joint-statement of facts which will include all details of McLean’s killing and an admission that Li committed the act. The case will then shift to the only remaining issue — should Li be held criminally responsible for the murder?

As the Free Press reported last month, two doctors who have been working closely with Li have concluded he was suffering a major mental illness at the time and should be sent to a hospital instead of a prison cell.

The doctors — one for the Crown, the other for the defence — will be the only witnesses called during the trial, which is slated to last just three days.

Their expert opinions will be the only evidence presented regarding Li’s mental state. Sources say the Crown isn’t directly consenting to a not criminally responsible (NCR) finding but will make no argument to oppose Li’s bid to be spared from the mandatory life sentence with no chance of parole for at least 10 years that comes with a second-degree murder conviction.

Instead, they will simply allow justice to takes its course by putting their medical expert on the stand, who will be followed immediately by the defence’s doctor. With no evidence to the contrary, it’s expected the judge will adopt the recommendations of the doctors.

If he is found NCR, Li’s file would be turned over to a provincial review board, which would determine whether he has received sufficient medical treatment to be returned to the community. His case would be reviewed on a yearly basis and there is no minimum period he must serve in hospital before he would be eligible for release.

McLean’s family has called for the creation of a new law that would ensure killers like Li are never given the chance for release — whether they are found NCR or not. Carol deDelley said her son’s killer shouldn’t be given the chance to taste freedom again.

Case on Twitter

Follow reporter Bruce Owen this morning as he Twitters live from the trial of Vincent Li.
For the uninitiated, Twitter is a social networking and micro-blogging service that allows its users to send and read other users’ updates (known as tweets), which are text-based posts of up to 140 characters in length.
Owen will send "tweets" from the courtroom as new information is unveiled in the case. Users can see the tweets on or through a widget on our website here

A much-anticipated court date

Can anyone attend the Vincent Li trial?

Yes. All criminal cases are open to the public. But seating is limited and no standing is allowed, so get there early if you plan to go. There is expected to be a larger-than-usual contingent of local and national media covering the case. 

Where is it?

The case is being heard at the Law Courts building at 408 York Ave. It is expected to be held in courtroom 210 — the city’s largest — but check the docket when you arrive to make sure the location hasn’t changed. The Queen’s Bench trial docket is posted on the main floor.

What time does it begin?

Court starts at 10 a.m. and usually sits until the lunch break at 12:30 p.m. Court usually resumes around 2 p.m. and sits until about 4:30 p.m.

How long will it last?

The case is scheduled for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday but may end early as only two witnesses are scheduled to testify. It is being heard by a judge alone, not a jury.

Do I have to go through security?

Yes. All visitors must go through the main security checkpoint and are subjected to x-ray screening and options include pat-down searches. Bags may also be checked. No weapons are allowed in the courthouse, and cameras with picture-taking ability can be held by sheriff’s officers.

What else do I need to know?

Remember to turn your cellular phone off and there is no talking when court is in session. You can come and go as you please from a courtroom but not to become a distraction. Seating is on a first-come, first-served base, no reserving of seats allowed.


Mike McIntyre

Mike McIntyre
Sports columnist

Mike McIntyre grew up wanting to be a professional wrestler. But when that dream fizzled, he put all his brawn into becoming a professional writer.

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