A man who stabbed, gutted and beheaded his seat mate on a Canadian bus last year pleaded not guilty Tuesday and will present psychiatric evidence in his defense.
Vince Weiguang Li, 40, faces a second-degree murder charge in the grisly case.
The 22-year-old victim, Tim McLean, had been asleep, his cheek pressed against the window of the Canadian Greyhound bus, when his assailant struck suddenly near dusk, stabbing him repeatedly in the chest with a “big Rambo knife,” according to witnesses.
The other 34 passengers and the driver were jolted by “blood-curdling screams” and fled, bracing the door on their way out to trap Li inside the bus.
Li then sawed off McLean’s head with the knife, pocketed the victim’s nose, lips and an ear, and taunted police and bystanders with the severed head, said prosecutors.
Police observed him eating pieces of his victim when they surrounded the bus on a desolate highway about 90 kilometers (55 miles) west of Winnipeg soon after the July 30 attack. He was subdued after a three hour standoff.
In court, Li reportedly appeared thinner than after his arrest eight months ago as he stood to enter a plea.
Friends and family of the victim wept, said public broadcaster CBC, as Li in a grey suit spoke in a clear, firm voice.
His trial is expected to last only three days, and only two witnesses — a psychiatrist for each side — will take the stand to testify about his mental shape, Manitoba courts spokeswoman Aimee Fortier told AFP.
The prosecution and defense agreed on a joint statement of facts, she said, thus avoiding having to recite the painful details of the gruesome crime in open court.
This leaves only one issue of whether Li should be held not criminally responsible for his actions due to mental illness and sent to a psychiatric facility for treatment, or convicted and face possible life in prison.
The prosecution’s forensic psychiatrist testified Tuesday Li is schizophrenic, and has been since about 2004.
As well, the court heard Li was suffering from auditory hallucinations on the day of the attack, that he heard God’s voice telling him to carry a knife with him at all times in order to fight evil, to board a Greyhound bus from Edmonton to Winnipeg, and to kill McLean.
Li dismembered McLean’s body, the psychiatrist said, because he feared McLean had supernatural powers and could resurrect from the dead, and so it was not enough to just kill him.
His family said McLean was on his way home to Winnipeg from a job as a carnival worker in Edmonton, western Canada, when he was attacked.
The court also heard Li left a note for his wife before leaving on the trip, asking her not to search for him and wishing her happiness.