The dramatic search for Luka Rocco Magnotta ended at a Berlin Internet cafe in June 2012 with an abrupt admission from the accused that he was the person authorities were looking for.
Confronted by a German police officer in the cafe, Magnotta initially identified himself as Kirk Trammell, an American from New York who didn’t have any identification on him, his murder trial heard Tuesday.
But a persistent German patrol officer, Marc Lilge, continued to question the man, who was stuttering, shaking and sweating, as several police cadets shadowing Lilge looked on.
The admission came after a few minutes.
‘”You got me, I’m Mr. Magnotta, I’m the man you’re looking for,”’ Lilge quoted Magnotta as saying.
Magnotta, 32, is charged with first-degree murder in the slaying and dismemberment of Jun Lin in May 2012 in Montreal before he fled to Paris and then Berlin.
He has admitted to killing the Chinese engineering student, but has pleaded not guilty by way of mental disorder.
Crown prosecutor Louis Bouthillier presented his final scheduled witness on Tuesday afternoon. Following the testimony, Quebec Superior Court Justice Guy Cournoyer addressed the jury.
“With this, the evidence of the prosecution is almost completed,” Cournoyer said. “Counsel are working on the last series of written admissions and this requires some verification. We don’t want that verification to be carried through in unnecessary haste.”
Cournoyer suspended the proceedings until Friday, when defence lawyer Luc Leclair is expected to begin presenting his case.
The judge told the jurors it’s normal to have a few days separation between Crown and defence evidence in a trial of this length.
On Tuesday, several German witnesses provided a snapshot of June 4, 2012, the day Magnotta was arrested.
Lilge said he handcuffed Magnotta immediately and that the Canadian’s last words were that he wanted to leave the scene before the media arrived.
The police officer testified that the accused had a smirk on his face as he was transported to a detention centre.
“I have the opinion that, somehow, he felt relieved because he had this grin on his face,” he said, adding Magnotta did everything they asked.
Magnotta faces four charges in addition to premeditated murder: criminally harassing Prime Minister Stephen Harper and other members of Parliament; mailing obscene and indecent material; committing an indignity to a body; and publishing obscene materials.
Lilge was among the final crop of Crown witnesses heard by the jury via testimony videotaped last June and July in France and Germany.
The Internet cafe employee who flagged down Lilge said he saw Magnotta looking at news stories about himself and recognized him right away because of his distinctive cheekbones after seeing his photograph in a German newspaper.
Kadir Anlayisli said he walked by him a few times to be sure and noted he was looking at stories online.
“There was a picture of this man and all of a sudden this very man was standing in front of me,” Anlayisli said. “I had read that the cellphone had been tracked in France and here he was in front of me.
“Yes, I did recognize him right away because of his cheekbones. He has weird cheekbones.”
Anlayisli sought out Lilge outside the cafe and Magnotta was arrested before he could pay for the Internet use.
Another German detective, Alexander Huebner, testified he tried to speak to Magnotta a few hours after his arrest but that he wouldn’t talk. The witness said Magnotta appeared very calm.
“I remember Mr. Magnotta being without emotion,” said Huebner.
Another police witness who was on site for the arrest described Magnotta’s look as “arrogant.”
“It was as if there was nothing (anybody) could do to him,” Thomas Leymann said under cross-examination.
Huebner testified he couldn’t remember if he told Magnotta he could contact a lawyer.
Lilge said he informed Magnotta about having the right to an attorney but did not tell him about getting consular assistance.
As of Tuesday, the Crown had presented 48 witnesses during the trial, which began in late September.