Gabriel Klein, charged with the 2016 stabbing death of Letisha Reimer and the aggravated assault of her friend. (Handout)

B.C. judge to rule in February in case of murdered high school student

Closing arugments wrap up in the second-degree murder trial of Gabriel Klein

The fate of a man charged with second-degree murder in the stabbing death of a student inside a B.C. high school now rests with a judge who is being urged by a defence lawyer to find his client guilty of manslaughter.

Martin Peters said in closing arguments Wednesday that Gabriel Klein did not have the intent to kill a 13-year-old girl on Nov. 1, 2016, when he walked into the rotunda of Abbotsford Secondary School.

Letisha Reimer died after being stabbed 14 times and her friend, who was also stabbed, suffered serious injuries, for which Klein has been charged with aggravated assault.

Peters said the Crown has proven its case in the assault against the girl whose name is under a publication ban, and Klein should be found guilty.

However, he told Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes of the B.C. Supreme Court that there is reasonable doubt related to the murder charge because his client exhibited odd behaviour and mental distress beforehand, suggesting he did not intentionally plan to kill anyone but only bring about his own death.

Surveillance videos seen in court showed Klein stealing alcohol from a liquor store and a hunting knife from a sporting goods store hours before the attack, and Peters said his client committed the thefts because he wanted to get drunk and use the weapon to stab a police officer in hopes of triggering a suicide-by-cop scenario.

Crown attorney Rob Macgowan said in his closing argument this week that Klein faked symptoms of a mental disorder after his arrest in order to be found not criminally responsible of the crimes and even told a psychiatrist who assessed him at a hospital that his lawyer would use that as a defence.

RELATED: Man knew repeated stabbing could kill girl at Abbotsford school, Crown says

Peters said Wednesday that his client may simply have been parroting what he heard from other inmates in a cell block at the courthouse after they heard about his involvement in the high-profile case.

“That doesn’t suggest manipulation or planning or scheming to obtain a psychiatric disorder,” he told Holmes, who has heard the trial without jury and is expected to announce her ruling on Feb. 21.

Peters noted that a member of an emergency-room security team testified in October that Klein was not responding to her questions and made odd facial expressions as she tried to talk to him two days before the attacks, when he asked her to call his mother in Edmonton.

He said that while the security-team employee had nothing to gain from her testimony, a social worker from the ER who testified Klein showed no signs of psychological distress that day may have been concerned about the hospital’s liability because it let a “killer go out into the night” instead of treating him.

Peters said his client’s mental capacity was impaired slightly by alcohol on the day of the stabbings because 2.8 ounces of rum were missing from a bottle he’d stolen and his blood-alcohol level suggested he’d consumed the alcohol.

He said Klein was experiencing “mental dysfunction” when he told hospital staff after the attacks that he thought Reimer was a “shape-shifting witch” when he approached the girls sitting on chairs and the other girl was a “monster with maggots coming out of her back.”

Macgowan said during his closing arguments this week that both the Crown and the defence had agreed that Klein would either be found guilty of second-degree murder or manslaughter, though he said the greater charge would suit the circumstances because the accused was not experiencing a mental disorder at the time of the attacks.

The court earlier heard Klein’s defence would be not criminally responsible because of a mental disorder but Peters did not call any evidence on that this week.

He said Wednesday that Klein was diagnosed with schizophrenia at a forensic psychiatric hospital in June 2017 and has been receiving treatment.

“Schizophrenia is variable in its onset,” he said. “It’s not like turning on a light switch, and it comes in bits and pieces.”

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

RCMP report woman arrested after ramming police cruiser

Suspect wanted for crimes allegedly committed in Kelowna, Salmon Arm and 100 Mile House

Salvation Army’s Coldest Night of the Year fundraiser in Salmon Arm welcomes you

Make community connections while taking a walk and contributing to $35,000 goal

Letter: South Shuswap incorporation a foregone conclusion?

Writer overwhelmed with information at committee meeting

Snapshot: Valentine’s donations to Shuswap organizations

Shuswap SPCA, SAFE Society receive some love from SASCU Insurance

Sniffing out options for expansion of Salmon Arm’s sewage treatment plant

Public presented with nine site possibilities at open house, feedback to help narrow options

Kelowna’s Family YMCA opens doors on Family Day

The entire day was free for the community

Wild weekend results in pair of losses for Salmon Arm Silverbacks

Away games ahead before Feb. 23 contest versus Cents at Shaw Centre

New highway proposed between Alberta and B.C.

The route would connect Red Deer to Kamloops

Wet’suwet’en and B.C. government have been talking Aboriginal title for a year

Coastal GasLink says it has agreements with all 20 elected First Nations councils along the 670-kilometre route

Trudeau tightlipped on plan to end protests ‘quickly and peacefully’

The prime minister, who cancelled a two-day trip to Barbados this week to deal with the crisis at home

Sicamous Eagles’ playoff hopes dashed by Storm

Kamloops team wins 7-4 in Feb. 14 contest

B.C. budget expected to stay the course as economic growth moderates

Finance minister said ICBC costs have affected budget

Canadian standards for coronavirus protection to be reviewed, health agency says

The protocols set out how health workers should protect themselves and their patients

Shuswap history in pictures: Fire at AL Fortune

Images from May 1975 blaze at Enderby school

Most Read