MONTREAL—The family of Jun Lin was in the same building as their son’s accused killer Thursday afternoon as Luka Rocco Magnotta’s lawyer told a judge he was concerned for his client’s well being in prison.
At the request of the defence, the Toronto-born Magnotta was present in court, contrary to a plan for him to appear by video link, as he did last Tuesday.
Lin’s family, along with at least one close friend, were also at the courthouse to meet with prosecutors.
The security given the family was tight. They arrived at the courthouse’s underground garage and were escorted to the prosecutors’ offices, away from the glare of the media.
They remained there all afternoon, until about 4:30, when they left the same way, surrounded by guards. A spokesperson for the Crown confirmed prosecutors met with Lin’s family.
Magnotta, who changed his name from Eric Clinton Newman, sat cross-legged in the glassed-in prisoner’s box, wearing a white short-sleeved shirt and dark pants. He looked much younger than his 29 years.
The Crown and defence set the preliminary hearing date for March 2013.
Luc Leclair, a Toronto-based lawyer who is leading the case, told the judge he had reservations about the prison where Magnotta is being held.
“I want to express my concern for his physical well being and mental well being,” Leclair said.
He asked the judge to ensure Magnotta would receive medication, but the judge placed a publication ban on the name and type of medication.
Magnotta is being held in isolation at the Rivière-des-Prairies detention centre in Montreal.
Magnotta is accused of killing and dismembering 33-year-old Lin in Montreal in May. Lin, a Chinese national and immigrant, was studying computer science at Concordia University.
Police say Magnotta allegedly sent Lin’s body parts to the Conservative Party headquarters in Ottawa and schools in Vancouver.
Police also allege Magnotta filmed the killing and posted the video to the Internet. The video also appears to depict cannibalism and sexual defiling of the body.
Defence lawyers didn’t ask the judge to order a psychiatric evaluation, which could seek to determine a suspect’s criminal responsibility. On Tuesday, another Magnotta lawyer, Pierre Panaccio, had indicated the defence might make the request.
Leclair, the lead defence lawyer, is notable for his Conservative party ties. He has organized leadership campaigns for several prominent conservatives — Peter MacKay, Belinda Stronach and John Tory, the former leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservatives.
A third defence lawyer, Jean Dury, is also on the case. Leclair said none among them would make comments outside of the courtroom. They refused reporters’ questions.
Magnotta faces five charges, including first-degree murder, indignity to a corpse, publishing obscene material, obscene use of the postal system, and threatening Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
Prosecutors emphasized the investigation is ongoing. Notably, police have not recovered Lin’s head.With files from Canadian Press and La Presse