Warning: disturbing content
NEW WESTMINSTER, B.C. -- A man found guilty of fatally stabbing a young teen and seriously injuring another student at Abbotsford Senior Secondary four years ago testified he was hearing voices almost every day around the time of the attack.
Gabriel Klein was convicted in March of the second-degree murder of 13-year-old Letisha Reimer and the aggravated assault of another student. He’s now testifying at a hearing to determine whether he may be found not criminally responsible (NCR) due to a mental disorder.
The defence was not raised during his trial, but before sentencing, the court was told Klein had changed his mind and wanted to raise the possibility of NCR.
On Monday, Klein told the court he was suicidal the day he stole liquor and a hunting knife before ending up at the school, which was connected to the local library. He testified he had gone to the library the day before and returned to send his mother an email.
He told the court he couldn’t find a seat, and instead went into the school, where he testified he saw what he thought were monsters resembling a zombie and a witch, and heard a voice saying "kill, kill, kill."
In his testimony, Klein sometimes said "girl" when referring to the victims, but later said he wasn’t aware they were girls until after he dropped the knife.
“I don’t know why I did it to them when it could have happened to anybody,” Klein said. “I feel like the voices in my head were in control and I wasn’t.”
In cross examination, prosecutor Rob Macgowan questioned Klein about discrepancies between his testimony and statements he gave to doctors. At one point, the prosecutor asked whether Klein would always do what the voices said. Klein responded not always, but for the most part yes, and then said he would decide whether to follow them based on how the voices treated him and his own emotions.
Klein also admitted he lied about being robbed prior to the stabbings, and agreed when Macgowan suggested he did it so people might feel sorry for him and help him, and also that he made up a story to get something he wanted.
Klein testified he crossed the border two days before the attack at the school because he thought the RCMP and Hells Angels were after him, but admitted in cross examination he told border guards he had crossed by accident because he didn’t want to get in trouble.
A spokesperson for Letisha Reimer’s family, Dave Teixeira, told CTV News he’s hoping the judge will find there’s not enough evidence to consider NCR in the case.
“That would be my hope, and that way it would spare the families all this sort of grief that they’re re-experiencing just after the anniversary of the murder,” he said. “At the end of the day, Letisha’s not here, and Gabriel Klein is permitted to sit on a stand and basically rewrite history of what took place. He’s introducing seemingly new information to try to minimize what he did.”
Due to COVID protocols, seating in the courtroom itself was limited, so a livestream of the proceedings was broadcast in a room at a local community centre.
During the trial’s closing arguments, Macgowan told the court the evidence showed Klein was angry, desperate and hopeless at the time of the attack, and added the way he acted before and after the stabbings proved he would have been aware of the consequences of his actions, and could have formed the intent for murder.
The defence did not present evidence or call witnesses in the trial.
In his closing arguments, Klein’s lawyer Martin Peters told the court “mental stresses” in combination with alcohol consumption should raise doubt about whether Klein understood at the time of the stabbings his actions were likely to result in death. He argued his client did not have the intent to murder, and should be found guilty of the lesser included charge of manslaughter.
Last year, the B.C. Review Board found Klein fit to stand trial, after hearing in 2018 he had been diagnosed with schizophrenia.