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Canada murder trial hears of body parts in mailed parcels

MONTREAL (Reuters) - A Canadian man who has admitted to killing and dismembering a Chinese student sent packages of body parts, pink tissue paper and hand-written notes to elementary schools and political parties, jurors were told on Tuesday.

Graphic evidence presented on the second day of the trial of Luka Magnotta, 32, included police testimony on the smell of blood in Magnotta’s Montreal apartment and the discovery of a severed head in a city park weeks after the killing.

Magnotta has admitted to killing Jun Lin, 33, but has pleaded not guilty to the charges, which include first-degree murder, committing indignities to Lin’s body, broadcasting a video of the killing and mailing severed body parts.

His lawyer says Magnotta is not criminally responsible because he is mentally ill. The government says Magnotta planned the killing for six months before the 2012 crime.

Police and forensic witnesses testified on material found in Magnotta’s apartment and on the grisly contents of parcels sent by mail to Ottawa and Vancouver.

Montreal police forensic investigator Chantal Turmel told the court she was dispatched to Magnotta’s apartment after a video was posted online showing a naked man being dismembered and his torso being sodomized.

Turmel’s photos of the scene, shown to the jury, also showed red splotches on the bathroom sink, tub and floor, and inside both the fridge and the freezer.

An artist's sketch shows Luka Rocco Magnotta, appearing in court for his preliminary hearing in Montreal, in this March 11, 2013 file photo. REUTERS/Atalante/Files

“When we removed the mattress, there was a smell that was a little bit rotten,” Turmel said.

Another police witness showed the Montreal courtroom photos of a skull found in a park a month after the killing.

Jurors were also shown photographs of packages sent to two Vancouver elementary schools and to the offices of political parties in Ottawa and of individual exhibits of their contents, including an item labeled with the note “black garbage bag wrapped around foot”.

The four packages were mailed in May 2012.

The packages that were sent to the schools contained pink tissue paper and menacing notes on pink paper. One note included a poem: “Roses are red, violets are blue, the police will need dental records to identify you bitch.”

The investigator said the boxes that were sent to the political parties included one note that mentioned the name of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s wife.

A publication ban imposed by the court at a preliminary hearing has barred media from reporting certain details of the case. Explicit details were publicized during the international search to capture Magnotta, but cannot be repeated until they are presented at trial. The jury was not being sequestered.

The government is trying to prove Magnotta started planning to kill a human being and make a movie of it at least six months before the 2012 killing of Lin.

Prosecutor Louis Bouthillier said on Monday that an alleged email from Magnotta to a journalist in 2011, some six months before the killing, indicates Lin’s murder was planned and deliberate.

Defense lawyer Luc Leclair said on Monday that Magnotta had been seen for years by different psychiatrists, and that he had been diagnosed in Montreal in 2012 with having a borderline personality disorder. Other psychiatrists have diagnosed him with schizophrenia, Leclair said.

The prosecutor said the jury will also see a video allegedly made by Magnotta that shows the killing taking place in Magnotta’s apartment.

Lin’s father, Diran Lin, traveled to Montreal from China to attend the trial.

The killing of Lin in the early summer of 2012 shocked Canadians and grabbed headlines around the world. Magnotta was the subject of an international manhunt. He was arrested in an Internet cafe in Berlin, where he was reading about himself.

Writing by Andrea Hopkins; Editing by Amran Abocar; and Peter Galloway