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Crown witness testifies Magnotta in touch with reality during Lin's slaying

Luka Rocco Magnotta is pictured in Berlin in a court photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO

The Crown’s expert forensic psychiatrist says even if Luka Rocco Magnotta was suffering from schizophrenia, he knew what he was doing was wrong when he killed Jun Lin.

Dr. Gilles Chamberland wrapped up his testimony linked to his report on Magnotta on Tuesday and was then cross-examined by defence lawyer Luc Leclair.

Defence psychiatrists have testified they believe Magnotta was psychotic, had been untreated for schizophrenia for at least two years and was unable to tell right from wrong when he killed Lin in May 2012.

The Crown says the crime was planned and deliberate.

Chamberland has raised doubts about Magnotta’s schizophrenia diagnosis in the early 2000s but said even if it’s taken as truth, there’s nothing to indicate mental illness had severed his link to reality the night of the killing.

He said the best way to evaluate the intensity of an illness is to see how it manifests itself.

“In the case of Mr. Magnotta, the information we have before and after the event indicate to me that he understood what he was doing was wrong,” Chamberland said.

“Even if we admit the illness, there’s nothing in there to tell me he didn’t know it was wrong.”

Chamberland said Magnotta’s medical history, in general, doesn’t suggest schizophrenia has hindered him over the years.

“The schizophrenia, if it’s there, doesn’t seem to have had a big impact on his life,” he testified.

Magnotta is charged with first-degree murder in Lin’s slaying. He has admitted to committing the acts but has pleaded not guilty by way of mental disorder.

Chamberland’s testimony Tuesday touched on several issues, including what he said are numerous parallels between Magnotta’s case and the movie “Basic Instinct.”

He called the similarities “fundamental” to the case. Lines from the movie are quoted in a letter by Magnotta suggesting six months before Lin’s death that he would kill a human.

Scenes from the video of Lin’s dismemberment appear similar to some in the film, while there are links between names from the movie and some used by Magnotta.

In particular, Chamberland said the ice-pick theme is of concern as it’s predominant throughout the movie and in Lin’s slaying, where a silver-painted screwdriver was used. The film of Lin’s dismemberment was entitled “One Lunatic, One Ice Pick.”

“When we look at it all in hindsight, it’s troubling,” Chamberland testified.

The psychiatrist also suggested that someone suffering from schizophrenia would not have gone to such lengths as disposing of Lin’s head in a Montreal park across town.

He says it’s an example of behaviour that isn’t consistent with someone suffering from psychosis or stress but more with the attention-seeking personality disorder he believes afflicts Magnotta.

Chamberland also discussed watching a 2008 interview Magnotta did for a reality television show about cosmetic surgery.

Simply showing up for such an interview is uncharacterstic of someone with an illness, the psychiatrist noted.