MONTREAL - The murder trial of a former Canadian porn actor accused of killing and dismembering a Chinese student will start Monday in Montreal, with the jury warned to brace for "shocking" evidence.
Luka Rocco Magnotta, 32, is accused of using an ice pick to fatally stab 33-year-old Lin Jun in May 2012, before sexually abusing and dismembering the man's corpse, and filming then posting the heinous act online. He then went on the run, triggering an international manhunt.
Days after the killing, Montreal police discovered the victim's torso in a suitcase by the trash outside an apartment along a busy highway.
Lin's severed hands and feet were sent in the mail to federal political parties in Ottawa - one of the packages was addressed to Prime Minister Stephen Harper - and to two schools in Vancouver. The head was found in a Montreal park months later.
Magnotta fled Canada but was arrested in Germany in June 2012 and extradited. He was nabbed in a Berlin Internet cafe, after stops in France and elsewhere in Germany.
Magnotta has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder and other charges, including committing indignities to a body and harassing Canada's prime minister.
If convicted, he faces life in prison.
During jury selection earlier this month, Judge Guy Cournoyer told potential jurors that they would be confronted with evidence that was likely to be "shocking and disturbing, which could be upsetting."
At a preliminary hearing last year, questions arose about Magnotta's mental health and whether he was fit to stand trial.
He had reportedly been treated for paranoid schizophrenia - a condition he has long suffered - in 2005 when he was convicted of fraud.
Doctors had prescribed antipsychotic medications, as well as drugs to reduce anxiety and help him sleep.
He also attended supportive psychotherapy and health education but did not always take his medication.
Without the drugs, "he would be prone to relapse of his symptoms, which include paranoia, auditory hallucinations, fear of the unknown, etc," a psychiatrist said in a letter to the Ontario Court of Justice in June 2005.
At the Montreal murder pre-trial last year, defence lawyers sought to have the charges lessened and a faint hope of parole, arguing that the evidence did not support a charge of calculated murder.
The motion was dismissed.
The court was also shown photographs and video, and heard testimony from dozens of witnesses, mostly policemen and experts.