UPDATED Magnotta Murder Trial: Gruesome Crime Scares Off Potential Jurors


Please see update below.

Two and a half years ago Luka Magnotta was multitasking: on the run from the police but basking in the media attention he so craved. Having gruesomely murdered Chinese student Jun Lin in Montreal,  Magnotta then cut various parts from the body and sent them to several Canadian politicians. Not surprisingly when they arrived, these packages quickly became national news.

Jun Lin (Facebook)
Jun Lin (Facebook)

Magnotta went on the lam but was eventually arrested in a German Internet cafe where he was recognized by a member of staff. The fact that he was surfing the Internet, reading his own international media coverage only helped to identify him and lead to his arrest. He may well be savage, but he’s not terribly bright. Or is he?

The grotesque nature of Jun Lin’s killing and Magnotta’s bizarre actions afterward brought the case to worldwide attention. By so doing, has Magnotta ensured that a non-biased jury is an impossibility? Are there 12 local people – and two alternates –  who have not heard of the killing or who don’t have an opinion? I’m not a lawyer so I don’t know what happens if a suitable jury can’t be selected, but it seems like a bit of a bump in the road to what should be a lengthy prison term.

I can certainly understand not wanting to be on a jury that is to decide the fate of an underworld figure or gang member. Jurors often complain of threats made to themselves and their family members by thugs insisting their boss be found innocent. But Magnotta seems to be a lone wolf.

What is odd to me is that no one wants to be on the jury. People are coming up with no end of creative excuses to be exempted from the panel, including sleeping disorders, migraines, and an inability to sit still for long periods. I can certainly understand not wanting to be on a jury that is to decide the fate of an underworld figure or gang member. Jurors often complain of threats made to themselves and their family members by thugs insisting their boss be found innocent. But Magnotta seems to be a lone wolf. Short of standing up in the courtroom and issuing threats, I don’t think Magnotta has any subalterns to carry out his dirty work. He does that himself when he can.

Like any lunatic killer worth his or her salt, Magnotta wasn’t going to let his work fade from memory, so he made a video recording of the whole thing. As you can imagine, this is not for the faint of heart, yet I don’t believe that an aversion to gore is an acceptable reason to be excused from sitting on a jury. It’s a civic duty, nobody said it was going to be a walk in the park. Financial, school and serious health reasons for exemption are perfectly understandable, but claiming that not wanting to see crime scene photos and videos as your ‘out’ unfortunately falls short in my opinion. This won’t be nice, but is a necessary part of the legal process.

UPDATE: A colleague of mine was in fact among the large group of initial potential jurors. It seems that there is no video of the slaying in evidence, but there are crime scene photos. Those over 65 years of age, or whose spouse is over 65 were let go. The first hundred or so to be winnowed out from the group were those who answered yes when the judge asked who wants to be on the jury – keep in mind it’s $103 a day, plus $6 for transit and a meal allowance. The judge estimated a six to eight week trial, sitting five days a week, or about $5000! These folks were moved on to the next round of selection. Those remaining had to indicate why they were unable or not willing to sit. During the process a pudgy-looking Magnotta sat with his lawyer.

 

Me DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DC on Twitter @DCMontreal and on Facebook, and add him on Google+
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3 thoughts on “UPDATED Magnotta Murder Trial: Gruesome Crime Scares Off Potential Jurors

  1. I would not want to fill my head with (very real) images of human depravity either so, frankly, sympathise with the evading jurors. As they say, the law is an ass. By your account of the video, surely the evidence convicts him; why put a whole lot of innocent people through the trauma of never being able to unsee what they’re forced to see as jurors? Because of an inadequate system of legal procedure. It’s the same here in Australia. Judges, assessor, prosecutors, etc, choose to go into law and deal with the dregs of human nature; the rest of us don’t. I don’t agree with the “it’s your duty” sentiment.

  2. I note the update. And the link – lots of shenanigans on the part of jurors 🙂 I would report for jury duty if called (the fine for not doing so in Australia is pretty hefty), but reluctantly, particularly in a murder case.

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