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

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

The Cowichan Valley Arts Council is offering courses in drawing May through August 2021. (Submitted)
A&E column: Art is everywhere in the Cowichan Valley

What’s going in the Cowichan Valley arts and entertainment community

The CVRD introduces new app to contact residents during emergencies, a tool that chairman Aaron Stone says will improve communications. (File photo)
CVRD launches new app to spread information during emergencies

Cowichan Alert is a free app that can be downloaded onto smartphones, computers

A B.C. Centre for Disease Control map showing new COVID-19 cases by local health area for the week of April 25-May 1. (BCCDC image)
Vancouver Island’s COVID-19 case counts continue to trend down

Fewer than 200 active cases on the Island, down from highs of 500-plus earlier this spring

The Malahat SkyWalk will open to visitors in July 2021. (Malahat SkyWalk photo)
Malahat SkyWalk will open to visitors this July

Highly anticipated attraction will take guests 250m above sea level

FILE PHOTO
Editorial: Time to roll up our sleeves and pitch in

They’re just not quite sure they want to get a vaccine — yet

Protesters attempt to stop clear-cutting of old-growth trees in Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew. (Will O’Connell photo)
VIDEO: Workers, activists clash at site of Vancouver Island logging operation

Forest license holders asking for independent investigation into incident

Starting Tuesday, May 11, B.C. adults born in 1981 and earlier will be able to register for a vaccine dose. (Haley Ritchie/Black Press Media)
BC adults 40+ eligible to book COVID-19 vaccinations next week

Starting Tuesday, people born in 1981 and earlier will be able to schedule their inoculation against the virus

Parks Canada and Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks dig the washed up Princess M out from sand along the south shore of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Rescue attempt costs man his boat off Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

Coast Guard response questioned after volunteer responder’s speedboat capsizes in heavy swells

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Al Kowalko shows off the province’s first electric school bus, running kids to three elementary and two secondary schools on the West Shore. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
B.C.’s first electric school bus making the rounds in Victoria suburbs

No emissions, no fuel costs and less maintenance will offset the $750K upfront expense

Road sign on Highway 1 west of Hope warns drivers of COVID-19 essential travel road checks on the highways into the B.C. Interior. (Jessica Peters/Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. residents want travel checks at Alberta border, MLA says

Police road checks in place at highways out of Vancouver area

Victoria police say the photo they circulated of an alleged cat thief was actually a woman taking her own cat to the vet. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Photo of suspected cat thief released by Victoria police actually just woman with her pet

Police learned the she didn’t steal Penelope the cat, and was actually taking her cat to the vet

The Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Louis S. St-Laurent sails past a iceberg in Lancaster Sound, Friday, July 11, 2008. The federal government is expected to end nearly two years of mystery today and reveal its plan to build a new, long overdue heavy icebreaker for the Canadian Coast Guard. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Vancouver, Quebec shipyards to each get new heavy icebreaker, cost remains a mystery

Vancouver’s Seaspan Shipyards and Quebec-based Chantier Davie will each build an icebreaker for the coast guard

Most Read