Credits: VERONICA HENRI/QMI AGENCY
MONTREAL — Luka Rocco Magnotta will stand trial for first-degree murder in the death and dismemberment of Chinese student Jun Lin.
Quebec Court Judge Lori-Renee Weitzman issued the ruling Friday.
The defence counsel tried unsuccessfully to downgrade the charge to second-degree murder, which would have allowed Magnotta — if convicted — to be eligible for parole in 10 years as opposed to 25.
Magnotta, a former small-time porn actor from Toronto, is charged with killing and dismembering Lin in May 2012.
Magnotta's lawyer, Luc Leclair, argued in court Friday that the Crown presented insufficient evidence that his client was Lin's murderer. Moreover, Leclair argued that there was not enough evidence to prove that Lin's death was premeditated. Leclair told the court that the Crown's evidence relied on speculation, inference and was entirely circumstantial.
"The Crown has not presented any direct evidence on any part of the case," Leclair said Friday in his closing arguments.
Crown attorney Louis Bouthillier argued that there was sufficient evidence to establish that Magnotta did, in fact, murder Lin.
Evidence presented during the preliminary inquiry is under a publication ban.
Aside from one count of first-degree murder, Magnotta is charged with indignity to a human body, producing and distributing obscene material, using the postal service to distribute obscene material, and criminally harassing Prime Minister Stephen Harper and other members of Parliament.
Bouthillier said Friday afternoon that he was content with the judge's decision to proceed to trial on first-degree murder as well as on the four other counts.
"I am happy with the work of the prosecutors and I salute the hard work of the Montreal police," he said.
"There is still a lot of work to do."
Magnotta's defence team did not respond to a request for comment.
The Crown presented more than 30 witnesses during the inquiry, which lasted 11 days. Leclair and his defence team did not present any evidence and their cross-examinations of witnesses were limited.
Lin's father, Diran Lin, was present in court for a few of the 11 days, but had to leave the room in tears on more than one occasion due to the graphic nature of the evidence.
Magnotta collapsed on March 19 after the Crown presented video evidence. However, the accused remained still and stared blankly in front of him during the majority of the inquiry.
Both sides are scheduled back in court at the end of April. Bouthillier said the trial will likely be set for the beginning of 2014.