Warning: Due to the nature of the trial, this story contains graphic content.
MONTREAL - The first-degree murder trial of Luka Rocco Magnotta saw for the first time just how mundane murder can be. Jurors watched as the man on trial welcomed his victim one evening and spent the next day cleaning up evidence of his killing.
The 12 jurors who will decide Magnotta’s fate have not yet heard how the two men met, but they watched Jun Lin, dressed in shorts, a yellow shirt and a baseball cap, enter Magnotta’s Montreal apartment building shortly before 10 p.m. on May 24, 2012. He appeared to enter the building of his own accord.
The footage was captured on more than 100 sequences from the apartment building’s surveillance cameras that police obtained following the discovery of a headless torso stuffed into a suitcase outside in the trash.
Four hours later, at 2:06 a.m., Magnotta was seen strolling out the front door of the building wearing what appeared to be Lin’s yellow shirt.
Magnotta admitted at the beginning of the trial that he killed Lin, but is arguing that he is not criminally responsible because of his psychological condition, notably schizophrenia and borderline personality disorder.
The yellow shirt was among the items police would later find in a meticulous search of 31 garbage bags put to the curb that, among other things, contained one leg without a foot, two arms without hands, a dead puppy, knives, screwdrivers, scissors, latex gloves, a saw and a hammer.
Other items featured in the surveillance footage, including Lin’s baseball hat and a longish black wig Magnotta can be seen wearing, were retreived when Magnotta was arrested following an international manhunt at an Internet cafe in Berlin, Germany.
Video showing Magnotta’s return to his apartment at 2:13 a.m. on May 25, 2012, features him checking his appearance in the mirrored walls of the building’s lobby. But within the hour, he has launched into a day-long task of cleaning up Lin’s grisly killing and dismemberment.
Down from his apartment to the building’s communal 45-gallon garbage bins, then back up to apartment 208 and back down again. Pillows, clothing, pizza boxes, wine bottles, a Casablanca movie poster, credit card bills, a subway pass, food, a laptop computer and digital camera, among numerous other items are methodically disposed of in the garbage bags.
Along the way, Magnotta changes out of Lin’s T-shirt, into a pink tank-top, then a blue-and-red tank top, a white shirt. There is a veritable fashion show of different pants and different hats that Magnotta stops every-so-often to observe in the building’s mirrors.
When the sun rose on May 25, 2012, with the gruesome deed done, Magnotta was captured on surveillance tape just before 9 a.m. returning to his apartment and wheeling a grey suitcase behind him. He ran errands nearly the entire day, leaving empty-handed but for an over-the-shoulder bag, returning with plastic shopping bags filled with unknown materials.
At 6:30 p.m. Magnotta received a food order from Pizza Pizza. But 20 minutes later he was back on the move, stopping briefly to hold open the door for female fellow resident.
The horrifying coup de grâce of the grim video evidence comes at 10:14 p.m. the night of May 25, 2012. Then for the first time, Magnotta is seen taking the elevator down from his second-floor apartment rather than the short flight of stairs.
The doors open and he steps out, again wheeling the suitcase behind him. He gets through the security door, but struggles to manoeuvre the suitcase down the steps. As he gets to the last step, he visibly struggles under its weight.
The suitcase would sit in a trash heap amongst furniture and other garbage for four more days—from that Friday night until the following Tuesday morning, the next scheduled pick-up.
On the morning of May 29, building janitor Michael Nadeau, whose job was the take the trash from the bins and move it to the alley at the rear of Magnotta’s building, noticed the smell coming from its vicinity. A closer inspection would reveal maggots crawling over its grey exterior.
It was Nadeau who pried open the lock of the suitcase with pliers and discover the headless torso. A call to police launched the frantic hunt, first for the identity of the victim, which investigators first thought may have been Magnotta until they viewed the surveillance videos. Soon after realizing the existence of a murder video posted to the web, officers realized they were looking for the unknown victim as well as Magnotta, their principal suspect in the killing.
The trial, which is scheduled to last up to two months, resumes hearing evidence next week.