Gabriel Klein was in a psychotic state when he stabbed two girls at an Abbotsford high school in 2016 and lacked the capacity to know that what he was doing was wrong, his lawyer argued in court Wednesday afternoon (Jan. 13).
Martin Peters said, for that reason, Klein should be found “not criminally responsible (NCR) due to mental disorder” for the killing of Letisha Reimer, 13, and the assault of her 14-year-old friend (who can’t be named due to a publication ban) on Nov. 1, 2016 at Abbotsford Senior Secondary.
Peters was the first to present closing arguments in the NCR hearing, which began Nov. 9 at B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster.
Peters said Klein was “not in control of himself” during the stabbing.
Klein testified on the first day of the hearing that he had gone to the high school to call his mom, who has since died, from the library there because he was feeling depressed and suicidal. He said he couldn’t find a seat in the library, so he sat down in the school rotunda.
He said he looked to his left, saw two “monsters” – one a zombie, the other a witch – and heard voices in his head telling him to “Kill! Kill! Kill!” Klein then repeatedly stabbed the two girls.
Peters said on Wednesday that Klein was suffering from a mental disorder at the time and could not “appreciate that the consequences of his actions would result in the death of one human being.”
“He subjectively thought that what he was doing was just – he was killing monsters – and Klein’s psychotic state removed his capacity to assess, and therefore know, that his actions would be viewed as morally wrong …” Peters said.
He said Klein has been diagnosed with “several mental disorders” – including fetal alcohol syndrome disorder – that might have predisposed him to schizophrenia, with which he was diagnosed after the stabbings.
Peters addressed the Crown’s submission that the attack was driven by a combination of factors such as anger, desperation, impulsiveness and alcohol.
Peters said the only evidence previously presented in court about Klein’s anger was from an incident at the Lookout homeless shelter in Abbotsford hours before the stabbings, when he slammed the door and left in an “aggressive manner.”
Klein was also found to have a “low level” of intoxication after the attack, Peters said.
He again emphasized his belief that Klein was experiencing a mental disorder at the time.
“He was experiencing auditory and visual hallucinations, tortured by the voices, and he complied with their directions in the hope that they would stop,” Peters said.
Crown lawyer Rob Macgowan will present his closing submissions starting at 9:30 a.m. Thursday (Jan. 14).
Klein was initially brought to the courtroom on Wednesday morning but was asked to be removed and taken back to the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital in Coquitlam when the judge was informed that he was not feeling well.
Klein then appeared via video on Wednesday morning and will do so again on Thursday.
He was convicted in March 2020 of second-degree murder and aggravated assault.
The NCR defence was not used during his trial, and his sentencing hearing had been scheduled to take place in September 2020. Instead, families of the two girls were informed a week ahead that Klein had been granted an NCR hearing.
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.