The BC Review Board has determined that the man accused of the fatal stabbing of Letisha Reimer at Abbotsford Senior Secondary in 2016 is fit to stand trial.
The board issued its decision on Tuesday afternoon, following a hearing held earlier in the day at the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital in Coquitlam.
Klein will now have a date set to go back to court, where a judge will make the final determination on Klein’s fitness and whether a date will be set for trial.
He is accused of the second-degree murder of Reimer and the aggravated assault of a 14-year-old girl (whose name is protected by a publication ban).
At his hearing on Tuesday morning, Klein said he no longer hears voices in his head and is able to focus better since starting a new medication regimen last fall.
The board also heard from Klein’s psychiatrist and his lawyer.
They were told that, following Klein’s last hearing in September, he was placed on the anti-psychotic drug Clozapine to treat his schizophrenia.
Klein, who in previous hearings was mainly unintelligible in his responses, was today able to fully answer the board’s questions.
He referred to his new medication as a “miracle drug.”
“When I first came to this hospital, I felt enslaved to the voices in my head. The Clozapine makes me feel like I’m not ill anymore,” Klein said.
He said he used to hear four or five voices constantly speaking to him with “pretty derogatory, sometimes uplifting” messages.
Klein said the voices sometimes spoke about aliens and sometimes came from the TV, making it difficult for him to focus on conversations.
Today, Klein was able to accurately answer questions from board members about the court system and what the possible outcome can be for someone charged with a crime.
Dr. Andrew Kolchak, who began treating Klein last fall, said he has no concerns about Klein now standing trial.
He said Klein’s symptoms have greatly diminished, allowing him to engage much better with people and participate in “fairly lengthy” conversations.
Kolchak said he expects that Klein will make continued progress.
One of Klein’s lawyers, Martin Peters, asked the board to find that Klein is now fit to stand trial.
“Mr. Klein is able to focus on what is presented before him, thus able to instruct counsel on what he would like to occur in terms of legal proceedings,” Peters said.
Board members who commented were in agreement that Klein now appears fit to stand trial, saying that his symptoms have lessened, he has a good grasp of his situation, and he is represented by experienced legal counsel.
After the hearing, Dave Teixeira, spokesperson for Letisha Reimer’s family, said the family was relieved that the hearing was quick – lasting less than an hour – and that the matter can now move forward.
“The family is not vengeful. The family is not trying to ensure he’s locked up and the key is thrown away. They want to see justice, whatever that may look like,” he said.
Also speaking after the hearing, Peters said Klein is also eager for the matter to proceed.
“He’s been very clear to Dr. Kolchak and myself that he wants to go to court, he wants to deal with this charge and, like everyone, he wants some finality to this process. He’s a young man. He wants to know what the rest of this process will look like, and where he will serve his time,” Peter said.
Klein was first found unfit to stand trial in April 2018 by a B.C. Supreme Court Justice.
The BC Review Board then held hearings in July and again in September to review the matter, determining that he was still not fit for trial.
They scheduled their next hearing for today to allow Klein more time for treatment to take effect.
Peters indicated after the hearing in September that if the case were to proceed to trial, he would argue that Klein is not criminally responsible due to mental illness.
That verdict means that although he committed the offences for which he is charged, he was not legally or morally responsible for those acts.
Such a judgment can only come at trial and would keep Klein under the eye of the BC Review Board.
The board would then decide whether to release him – with or without conditions – or detain him indefinitely in the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital, where he is currently situated.
BC Review Board appears to be in unanimous agreement that Gabriel Klein should be found fit to stand trial for the fatal stabbing of Letisha Reimer. Decision to be released later. #Abbotsford @BlackPressMedia @AbbyNews— Vikki Hopes (@VikkiHopes) January 15, 2019