An artist’s sketch of Luka Rocco Magnotta in court Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013. Magnotta, accused in the 2012 murder and dismemberment of Chinese national Lin Jun, appeared to have gained several pounds in the last year.
Photograph by: Delphine Berg , The Gazette
MONTREAL – A few obstacles have been cleared as Luka Rocco Magnotta's murder case moves toward a trial.
At the Montreal courthouse on Wednesday, the 31-year-old appeared calm and spoke in a soft voice as he uttered "not guilty" in response to each of the five charges he faces in connection with the May 25, 2012, murder of Lin Jun, a 33-year-old Chinese national who was studying engineering at Concordia University.
The accused was dressed almost entirely in black, and appeared to have gained about 20 pounds since the last time he appeared in court.
Magnotta is charged with first-degree murder, committing an indignity to a body, publishing obscene material, criminally harassing Prime Minister Stephen Harper and other MPs, and mailing obscene and indecent material.
Magnotta's jury trial is set to begin on Sept. 8, 2014, and Wednesday was used, by Superior Court Justice Guy Cournoyer, as a conference hearing to prepare for the trial.
Magnotta's lawyer, Luc Leclair, filed a series of motions he intends to argue early next year, but prosecutor Louis Bouthillier said that arguing two of those motions would be unnecessary because the Crown has no intention of challenging them. One was a request that Magnotta be tried in English. The other was that potential members of the jury be asked questions about what they already know about the case, for example from media coverage.
The other motions will be argued in February. One touches on the disclosure of evidence to the defence.
Cournoyer said he hopes the two sides in the case will resolve the issues before the February hearing date.
Leclair also tried to have a publication ban imposed on Magnotta's case, which would have prevented any media covering it from reporting on the fact that Magnotta is detained and how he is handled when he is brought to the courtroom. Leclair noted that Wednesday's hearing was held in a specially designed courtroom where the accused is kept in a prisoner's dock behind a glass wall that extends beyond eight feet high. Leclair also felt that reporting details, like the fact Magnotta's feet are shackled and his hands bounds by handcuffs, would be prejudicial to his client getting a fair trial.
Cournoyer seemed somewhat baffled by the request, in particular Leclair's request that media not mention that Magnotta sits behind the glass wall when he is brought into the courtroom. The wall sits right in front of where the jury would have been sitting if the trial had commenced Wednesday.
"As far as I can tell, they will see it," Cournoyer said in reference to the wall. "I can't make it disappear."
After mulling over Leclair's request over lunch, Cournoyer rejected the motion.
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