WINNIPEG — A psychiatrist testified Monday that a schizophrenic man who beheaded and cannibalized a fellow passenger on a Greyhound bus is unlikely to go off of his medication because he doesn't want his disease to take over again.
Manitoba's Criminal Code Review Board is being asked to grant Will Baker, formerly known as Vince Li, an absolute discharge, meaning he would no longer be subject to any conditions.
Baker was found not criminally responsible in the killing of Tim McLean in 2008.
Baker's doctor, Jeffrey Waldman, told the board that he is confident Baker will remain on his medication and will continue to work with his treatment team if released. Waldman testified that Baker knows it's the medication that keeps his illness at bay.
That should be enough to grant Baker his freedom, argued lawyer Alan Libman.
"We've heard over and over again about Mr. Baker's commitment to taking his medication, his commitment to physical and mental health, and his commitment to making sure he's never in a position where his reality is different than the rest of us," Libman told the board.
"He never wants to be in a situation where he could cause harm to himself or others."
Waldman said Baker plans to visit his native China if released but would live in Winnipeg for the next two to three years. He is on the waiting list for a post-secondary training program and plans on establishing a career in the city.
He has been living on his own in a Winnipeg apartment since November, is involved with a church community, and regularly exercises at a local gym, Waldman added.
Baker is monitored nightly by pharmacy staff who stop by his apartment to watch him take his medication, a practice Waldman said Baker has agreed to continue if his request is granted.
The Crown, which was refused a delay in the hearing to better prepare for the discharge request, is opposed to Baker's release.
Crown lawyer Mary Goska urged the board to think of the horror of the offence.
"Mr. Baker spontaneously committed an offence against Tim McLean — a young man who was a stranger to him — and what ultimately occurred was beyond tragic and extremely devastating to many people," she said.
"The board should not lose sight of what occurred because it does speak to his potential risk."
McLean's mother, Carol de Delley, has been outspoken against granting Baker freedom, saying there would be no way to ensure he continued to take his medication.
She reiterated that after Monday's hearing.
"What if he chooses to stop his medication again? In a nutshell, I don't believe that should be his choice to make anymore," she said outside court.
"A secure facility where he can continue to receive treatment for the rest of his natural life is where he belongs. Has everyone forgotten what he did to Timothy?"
Baker sat next to the 22-year-old McLean on the bus after the young man smiled at him and asked how he was doing.
Baker said he heard the voice of God telling him to kill the young carnival worker or "die immediately.''
He repeatedly stabbed McLean while the young man fought for his life. As passengers fled the bus, Baker continued stabbing and mutilating the body before he was arrested.
Baker was initially kept inside a secure wing at the Selkirk Mental Health Centre after his arrest.
He was gradually granted more freedom over the years at annual appearances before the board. He started living on his own last year, but is still subject to monitoring and random drug tests.
The Supreme Court of Canada ruled in 1999 that a review board must order an absolute discharge if a person doesn't pose a significant threat to public safety.
The ruling added there must be clear evidence of a significant risk to the public for the review board to continue imposing conditions after a person is found not criminally responsible.
The board is to rule on the discharge request in the coming days.
Shane Gibson, The Canadian Press
Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version spelled Waldman's first name Jeffery.