Killer showed no emotion after stabbing 13-year-old to death, witnesses tell B.C. court

There was a blank expression on the face of Letisha Reimer's killer when he was restrained in the rotunda of Abbotsford Senior Secondary on Nov. 1, 2016, a B.C. Supreme Court trial has heard.

The school's principal Robert Comeau took the stand Tuesday in Gabriel Klein's trial for second-degree murder in Reimer's death.

Comeau testified that he was in a meeting in his office when the attack happened at around 2 p.m. There was a commotion in the rotunda and he heard the secretaries scream — one yelled "He has a knife."

Comeau said he ran out of his office and into the rotunda where he saw a bleeding girl lying on the floor and a man with a knife above her.

"He had her pinned down, he had the knife above his head. He had stabbed her before I had gotten out of the office door," Comeau told the court.

"As I ran to the rotunda I saw him lift the knife up again. He made eye contact with me and dropped the knife."

The principal said he didn't immediately recognize the girl lying on the floor, but she was losing a lot of blood. Reimer was just 13 when she died.

There is no dispute that Klein, now 23, stabbed Reimer to death, but he has pleaded not guilty. His defence is expected to argue he is not criminally responsible because of a mental disorder.

'I saw a girl falling to the ground'

Witnesses who testified Tuesday painted a picture of the day Reimer was killed, beginning with his visit to the Abbotsford Cabela's store, where he asked a staff member to show him to the knives aisle.

A woman who encountered Klein on her walk to university just half an hour before the attack testified that he appeared agitated and was growling. She called 911.

After the violence at the school, Comeau said he and a vice-principal managed to restrain the killer, while staff performed first aid for Reimer.

Asked about the suspect's expression in that moment, Comeau answered simply, "blank."

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Comeau would later speak to a second girl who'd been stabbed in the school's computer lab. Though she was bleeding heavily, she was conscious and lucid.

"I asked her if she knew the suspect or had any reason to know why this happened," Comeau testified. "She said no, she did not."

Former vice-principal Bruce Cuthbertson also testified Tuesday, telling the court he was in Comeau's office when the stabbing happened. Cuthbertson told the court he saw some of the attack as he ran out into the rotunda with Comeau.

"I saw a girl falling to the ground. A guy was holding onto her and as she fell to the ground he attacked her — stabbed her — three times," Cuthbertson testified.

He said he saw the attacker continue to stab Reimer as she lay on the ground. 

Cuthbertson testified that he held the killer down using a wrestling hold until police arrived. He described the man as breathing heavily but otherwise calm, his lack of emotion a complete "mismatch" with the violence he had just inflicted.

School staff fought to save Reimer's life

As he waited for officers to appear, Cuthbertson said he saw his colleagues try to save Reimer's life.

"People were trying to do first aid and Paula [a school counsellor] was begging her to stay alive. The blood that was leaving her body was increasing in its volume and it became evident to me that I was holding onto someone who had killed someone," Cuthbertson testified.

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The first officer on the scene was Insp. Jason Burrows, who was then a staff sergeant with the Abbotsford Police Department. 

He testified Tuesday that he handcuffed Klein while Cuthbertson was holding him on the ground. He could also see a frenzy of activity around Reimer.

"I said something to the male just to acquire some logic to what happened here," Burrows testified. 

Both the killer and the victim looked quite young, he remembered. "I looked at him and I said, 'Is that your girlfriend?' "

There was no response, Burrows said. Klein remained lifeless and lethargic.

He was still limp and apparently unresponsive to everything happening around him as he was taken into custody, Const. Daryl Young testified.

Throughout Tuesday's proceedings, Klein sat with his head down, showing no obvious reaction to the testimony. The trial is set to continue Wednesday morning.