Mom pledges to fight killer’s release

dk She knows he's headed to hospital -- not prison -- due to mental illness


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Carol deDelley is prepared to watch her son's killer walk out of court today headed for a hospital, not a prison cell. But the grieving mother vows to do everything possible to ensure Vincent Li never experiences freedom again.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 05/03/2009 (5079 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Carol deDelley is prepared to watch her son’s killer walk out of court today headed for a hospital, not a prison cell. But the grieving mother vows to do everything possible to ensure Vincent Li never experiences freedom again.

"I am absolutely terrified of him and his capabilities. I think he’d do it again," deDelley said Wednesday after hearing a second straight day of disturbing court testimony.

Li’s fate rests in the hands of Queen’s Bench Justice John Scurfield, who has reserved his decision until 10 a.m. today.

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Carol deDelley said she would be willing to go to court every year to ensure Vincent Li is kept away from society.

Scurfield is expected to find Li not criminally responsible (NCR) for the July 2008 stabbing, beheading and cannibalizing of Tim McLean, 22, on board a Greyhound bus. That would spare Li from receiving a mandatory life sentence with no chance of parole for at least 10 years. He would likely be sent to the Selkirk Mental Health Centre and his long-term fate would be in the hands of doctors who will evaluate his status on a yearly basis and decide if, or when, he has been sufficiently treated and no longer poses a risk to society.

"I’m going to fight to keep everyone safe from him," deDelley said. "If it means going (to court) every year, I’ll go every year. Instead of birthday parties, it’ll be NCR hearings."

DeDelley accepts the fact Li is mentally ill, especially after hearing testimony from two forensic psychiatrists this week who have spent considerable time with Li over the past few months. She also recognizes an inevitable conclusion to the case, considering both Crown and defence lawyers agree that Li was suffering a major psychotic episode at the time of her son’s killing.

"This is as close to beyond a reasonable doubt as you can get. There’s no contradictory evidence here," Li’s lawyer, Alan Libman, told Scurfield during a brief closing argument on Wednesday morning.



Prosecutor Joyce Dalmyn said her department had a duty to raise the issue of criminal responsibility even though it is controversial with the public.

"Almost every member of the public has said ‘That guy is crazy, he needs to be locked up,’" she said.

"The Crown can’t ask this court to convict Li of second-degree murder when all evidence points to him being not criminally responsible. He was not able to appreciate the nature of his actions due to his delusional thinking. He was not able to determine right from wrong."

Dalmyn said it’s also obvious Li is not close to being ready for release back into the community.

"It’s clear from the evidence called… Mr. Li, at this point and time, does pose a risk to the public and himself," she said.

Dr. Jonathan Rootenberg, a forensic psychiatrist who met with Li at the request of his lawyers, told court Wednesday that he believes Li didn’t know what he was doing when he attacked the sleeping McLean without warning or provocation.

"He certainly didn’t know it was wrong. He was quite psychotic during that time period," Rootenberg said.

He said Li likely didn’t view McLean as a human being as he attacked him. "He viewed the unfortunate victim as a demon. He believes it wasn’t his hands doing that, but it was God’s hands, through him."

He called Li a good candidate for treatment because he doesn’t have any history of substance abuse or anti-social disorders, which are often psychotic triggers for people who have schizophrenia. Rootenberg added that Li has responded well to medical treatment and therapy but will always have to be watched closely to protect against a relapse.

"He is in the very early stages of being treated. He definitely represents a significant risk at this point," he said.

Rootenberg echoed the findings of the Crown’s lone witness, Dr. Stanley Yaren, who told court Tuesday that Li said he heard voices from God that caused him to single out McLean for death.

Yaren said Li has a very strong chance to recover and was an otherwise "decent person" who was clearly out of his mind when he believed he was acting on God’s commands to eliminate "the force of evil" by attacking McLean.

"He was being tormented by auditory hallucinations," Yaren said. "He believed Mr. McLean was a force of evil and was about to execute him. He had to act fast, urgently, to save himself. This wasn’t an innocent bystander or stranger he chose to kill, but rather an evil force he was commanded to kill."

Yaren, the director of forensic psychiatry for both the province and the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, said Li continued to attack the obviously deceased McLean based on voices he heard.

"He was terrified, frightened, tormented. Mr. Li’s fear, because of what he was being told through these hallucinated voices, is that what he perceived to be the evil being would come back to life, through some supernatural powers and finish him off. He was in a frenzy to prevent this from happening," Yaren said.


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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