updated 3/4/2009 7:56:47 PM ET 2009-03-05T00:56:47

A man accused of beheading and cannibalizing a fellow Greyhound bus passenger is obviously insane and not criminally responsible, the government prosecutor told a judge Wednesday.

The judge will decide Thursday whether Chinese immigrant Vince Li should be held accountable for stabbing Tim McLean dozens of times last July and dismembering his body while horrified passengers fled.

Both the prosecution and the defense have argued Li can't be held responsible because he is mentally ill.

Li is accused of second-degree murder in the death of McLean, a 22-year-old carnival worker. He has admitted he killed McLean but pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. Last year, Li was judged fit to stand trial.

But prosecutor Joyce Dalmyn said the prosecution had little choice but argue he not be held criminally accountable, after their own psychiatrists found him unable to "differentiate between wrong and right"

"He was out of touch with reality," Dalmyn said, adding the court didn't even need to hear from psychiatrists. "He believed God was telling him to kill the evil force beside him."

Dalmyn said McLean suffered a horrendous death, and his family wants to see Li put in prison, but the horrible nature of the crime does not allow the prosecution to abandon its duty to the court.

Both sides agree
Delmar Doucette, a veteran Canadian defense lawyer, said even if both sides agree someone is not criminally responsible it still must go before a judge.

"Otherwise this would take seconds in court and I think the public wouldn't have a full appreciation of what the evidence was and what the reasons were for it," Doucette said.

If Li is found not criminally responsible, he will likely be held in a maximum security hospital — possibly for the rest of his life — based on the threat he represents to the public.

Doucette, however, said it is possible for Li to be released if his mental health improves.

Witnesses said Li attacked McLean unprovoked, stabbing him dozens of times, as their bus traveled at night along a desolate stretch of the Trans-Canada Highway.

An agreed statement of facts between the prosecution and defense detailed how passengers stood outside the bus as Li stabbed and mutilated McLean's body. Finding himself locked inside, he finally escaped through a window and was arrested.

Li apologized and pleaded with police to kill him.

Police said McLean's body parts were found throughout the bus in plastic bags, and the victim's ear, nose and tongue were found in Li's pocket.

A psychiatrist called by the defense Wednesday said Li suffers from schizophrenia, and a psychiatrist called by the prosecution testified that Li cut up McLean's body because he believed that McLean would come back to life and take revenge.

McLean's mother, Carol deDelley, said she wants the law changed so anyone found not criminally responsible for a crime still serves prison time.

"It strengthens my resolve to change the laws that are currently in place because to me that are grossly inadequate in circumstances like this," she said outside court.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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