An artist’s sketch depicts Gabriel Klein in court during his fitness hearing on Thursday at B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster. (Sketch by Sheila Allan)

Judge to decide Friday if fatal B.C. school stabbing suspect is fit to stand trial

Gabriel Klein could have trial of Abbotsford case delayed because of mental health issues

The judge in the hearing to determine whether accused killer Gabriel Klein is fit to stand trial will give her decision on Friday morning.

The ruling is scheduled to take place at 10:30 a.m. in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster.

The decision will follow proceedings that took place yesterday (Wednesday) and today.

Dr. Marcel Hediger was the only person to testify. His evidence yesterday in court included that Klein is schizophrenic, “intensely paranoid,” hears voices on a daily basis, suffers from “disorganized thinking” and experiences hallucinations.

He said he believes that Klein will have difficulty in “sustaining his ability to closely follow trial proceedings” throughout the four to eight weeks that the trial is expected to take.

Hediger also testified that Klein is currently undergoing a new medication regimen and it could take some time for his body to adapt and stabilize.

In today’s proceedings, lawyers for both sides gave their submissions.

Defence lawyer Martin Peters said his “salient concerns” are whether Klein is able to “conduct a defence” and whether he is able to communicate with his lawyers.

He also is concerned that Klein will be unable to follow the proceedings for an extended time.

Crown lawyer Rob Macgowan said the question facing the judge is whether it is “more likely than not that there will be times during the trial that Mr. Klein will meet the criteria for unfitness.”

The judge’s options include declaring Klein either fit or unfit to stand trial, or she could decide to adjourn the fitness hearing to a later date. This would allow more time for Klein to adapt to his new medication treatment and have further assessments to determine his suitability to stand trial at that time.

Klein is charged with second-degree murder in the fatal stabbing of 13-year-old Letisha Reimer at Abbotsford Senior Secondary on Nov. 1, 2016. He is also charged with the aggravated assault of Reimer’s friend (who cannot be named due to a publication ban), who was 14 at the time of the attack.

Klein was scheduled to go to trial May 7, but the fitness hearing was held after his lawyer drew attention to his client’s worrisome mental state.

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