The only evidence that Gabriel Klein was in a psychotic state when he stabbed two girls at Abbotsford Senior Secondary in 2016 is his own words, a Crown lawyer stated on Thursday (Jan. 14).
Rob Macgowan presented the Crown’s closing arguments during the “not criminally responsible (NCR) due to mental disorder” hearing for Klein at B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster.
Klein, who appeared via video, was convicted in March 2020 of the second-degree murder of Letisha Reimer, 13, and the aggravated assault of her 14-year-old friend (whose name is protected by a publication ban) on Nov. 1, 2016.
He was due to be sentenced in September 2020 but, instead, an NCR hearing was scheduled and began on Nov. 9.
Macgowan said on Thursday that the only way Klein should receive an NCR ruling is that if the judge agrees that Klein was “in the midst of a genuine psychotic state that caused him to lose touch with the reality of the fact that he was stabbing two screaming teenage girls.”
He said the judge would have to take Klein’s word for that because there is otherwise no evidence supporting that theory.
“Because if you don’t accept Mr. Klein’s word for it, we submit that all you would be left with is the same body of evidence upon which he was found guilty of murder and aggravated assault,” Macgowan said.
He said two doctors who testified about Klein’s mental state at the time of the attack were basing their opinions on what Klein told them. Macgowan said that is heresay, and not admissible, evidence.
Macgowan said Klein was not diagnosed with schizophrenia – which can include psychotic episodes – until after the stabbings.
Before then, he had been diagnosed with other disorders – such as fetal alcohol syndrome – that are not linked to psychosis, he said.
Macgowan said two psychotic episodes for which Klein was hospitalized – in 2014 and 2016 – were found to be induced by the use of amphetamines.
He said Klein did not begin experiencing paranoid delusions until after the stabbing, when he was in custody. Macgowan said doctors agreed that extreme stress can bring on such symptoms.
Macgowan said the Crown does not dispute that Klein was diagnosed with schizophrenia, which defence lawyer Martin Peters said on Wednesday is being successfully treated with a drug regimen.
“But the question of when that condition manifested and, more importantly, the degree to which it played a role in the offence is very much a matter of controversy and very far from clear …,” Macgowan said.
He said there were also numerous inconsistencies in Klein’s evidence given at various times before and during his trial and that some of the things he described are “atypical for a psychotic experience.”
For example, Macgowan said Klein described being “shocked and confused” when he realized he was stabbing a person, and he dropped the knife. But none of the witnesses testified that Klein appeared to be in that state at the time.
Macgowan said when Klein sat down outside the school library because he wanted to use a computer but they were all in use, just before he stabbed the girls, there was no evidence that he was in a psychotic state.
Peters argued during his closing submissions on Wednesday that Klein was in a psychotic state at the time of the stabbings and did not have the capacity to know that what he was doing was wrong; therefore, he should be found “not criminally responsible.”
Closing arguments ended late Thursday afternoon, and a date will be set for the judge to give her ruling.
The NCR defence was not used during Klein’s trial.
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.