It has all the ingredients of a sleazy crime novel: murder, sex, blood and gore, odd behaviour, and a worldwide manhunt. Yet it is all too real. Reading newspaper accounts of the trial of Montreal gay porn actor wannabe, Luka Rocco Magnotta, who has admitted he murdered and butchered, including lopping off his head, student Jun Lin two years ago, makes me think of a time when newspapers were our main source of news.
Were this case being tried in a US courtroom instead of here in Montreal it would no doubt garner gavel-to-gavel television coverage. I suspect some of the more gruesome exhibits would not be broadcast over CourtTV or CNN, although they might appear on the Internet, but surely the detailed testimony of crime scene professionals would make for riveting viewing for some. Shots of the accused sitting at the defense table with his lawyer would be interspersed with witness-box coverage.
However this trial is taking place in a Canadian courtroom where, I imagine much to the chagrin of the attention-seeking Magnotta, cameras are still verboten. While members of the public and media provide up-to-the-minute details from the courtroom via Twitter –
@MontgomerySue @CTVBeauchemin , an overall take on things is best found in newspapers the next day. Today as I read the account of yesterday’s proceedings in Montreal’s English-language daily The Gazette, I couldn’t help but think of those days, not all that long ago, before the electronic information revolution, when newspapers were the main source of information when it came to events that for whatever reason could not be filmed or photographed.
Police also found Mastercard, hammer, screwdriver, grinder saw, blood-soaked pillow case, black and white puppy was examined. no marks on it
— suemontgomery (@MontgomerySue) October 2, 2014
Magnotta is facing five charges: first-degree murder; committing an indignity to a body; publishing obscene material; criminally harassing Prime Minister Stephen Harper and other members of Parliament; and mailing obscene and indecent material. He admits to all of these, yet has entered a plea of not guilty based on his mental state at the time he did these things. In other words his lawyer is trying to convince the jury that Magnotta was bonkers when he carried out these atrocities. But bonkers in the legal sense of the word.
Defense lawyers usually take a “he didn’t do it” position, opposed to the prosecutions’ “he did it” stance. In this case, with an admission if not a confession, the roles have been altered. The defense claims he did it, but was not sane at the time and the prosecutors posit he was indeed sound of mind.
I don’t think you have to be Freud to come to the reasonable conclusion that someone who murders and hacks up another person, then mails the body parts hither and yon is wacko. But does that satisfy the legal requirements of a not guilty by reason of bonkers case is the question the jury faces. In other words, Magnotta’s lawyers need to prove that he was a headcase at the time of the head case. Why? Criminals go to jail, the criminally insane go to institutions. Think Shawshank Redemption versus One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest.
Daily Post: “Follow your inner moonlight; don’t hide the madness” – Allen Ginsberg. This is some madness that should have been hidden.