Convicted killer Gabriel Klein testified in court on Monday morning (Nov. 9) that he stabbed two girls, killing one, at an Abbotsford high school in 2016 because he thought one was a zombie and the other was a witch.
“I don’t know how to explain why I acted on my thoughts. I didn’t know these girls, I wasn’t angry at these girls … I felt like the voices in my head gained control over me,” he said.
A hearing is being held in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster to determine whether Klein was “not criminally responsible due to a mental disorder” (NCRMD) at the time he killed Letisha Reimer, 13, on Nov. 1, 2016 and seriously injured her 14-year-old friend (who can’t be named due to a publication ban).
The pair were attacked while they were sitting in the rotunda of Abbotsford Senior Secondary.
A trial into the matter concluded earlier this year, at which time the NCRMD defence was not used. In March, Klein was convicted of second-degree murder and aggravated assault. His sentencing hearing was scheduled to take place Sept. 23 and 24, but, instead, the families of the two girls were informed the week before that Klein had been granted an NCRMD hearing.
The proceedings began Monday and are expected to run for eight more days in November and December.
Under questioning by defence lawyer Martin Peters, Klein, who was 21 at the time of the stabbings, said he first began hearing voices in his head at the age of 16, and they grew increasingly worse over the years.
He said he heard two or three voices on a daily basis, and he described hearing a “good voice” and a “bad voice.”
“I felt like these voices controlled my life … I felt like the bad voice would torture me, push me to doing wrong,” Klein said.
He said he began having delusions in the fall of 2016 – when he was living in Alberta – that he was being followed by white supremacists, the Hells Angels and the RCMP, so he fled to Vancouver and then to Abbotsford.
While in the community, Klein illegally crossed the border at one point – another effort to keep away from this pursuers, he said. After his release back to Canada, he went to Abbotsford Regional Hospital because he thought his brain was “swollen” and that he might have meningitis.
He said he also told a social worker that he was suicidal, but he was released “without any treatment whatsoever.”
Klein said he was referred to the Lookout homeless shelter in Abbotsford, where he stayed overnight.
The next day was Nov. 1, 2016, and he said he woke up feeling “very depressed,” angry about his situation and hearing voices again.
He said he shoplifted alcohol from a local liquor store and took three “shots.”
Evidence presented at Klein’s trial indicated that he then stole a hunting knife from the local Cabela’s store, but he did not touch on this during his testimony on Monday.
Klein said he then began making his way to Abbotsford Community Library — located inside of Abbotsford Senior Secondary – because he wanted to access a computer to contact his mom, who has since died, and let her know he was feeling suicidal.
While walking down the street, he said he was screaming and yelling and stepping into traffic. He continued to hear the voices in his head, and thought shadows were following him, he said.
Klein said when he arrived at the library, he couldn’t find a seat, so he sat down in the school rotunda.
“As soon as I sat down and looked to my left, I saw two people that I describe as monsters,” he said.
Klein described one as looking like a zombie with maggots coming out of her back and the other as a witch.
He said he heard a voice named “Lucy” yelling, “Kill! Kill! Kill!”
Klein said he took the knife out of his backpack, unsheathed it and first stabbed the “zombie” and then the “witch.” The second victim, who was Reimer and had been stabbed 14 times, fell to the ground. Klein said he dropped the knife and heard a voice in his head say, “You’re going to hell now.”
He sat down and was tackled by the school principal. Klein said he quickly realized it was two girls, not monsters, that he had stabbed. It was while he was in the police car after his arrest that he felt remorse and sadness, he said.
But Klein said he later became uncooperative with authorities and refused to talk.
“I felt like I completely bottomed out and lost everything in my life. That’s why I didn’t want to cooperate – I felt like I had nothing left,” he said.
Klein said he has been housed at the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital in Coquitlam for the last three years and his current treatment regimen has resulted in him no longer hearing voices or having hallucinations or delusions.
The Crown’s cross-exam of Klein began on Monday afternoon.
The courts previously heard that Klein was diagnosed with schizophrenia and delusions. He was at first found unfit to stand trial, but was then found fit in January 2019.
An NCR ruling means that a judge believes an individual did not have the capacity to appreciate his or her actions and/or know right from wrong at the time of their offence.
Individuals who receive such a ruling fall under the mandate of the BC Review Board, which conducts an assessment to determine whether the person should be detained in a hospital, discharged in the community under certain conditions or discharged without conditions.