Image: Vince Li
John Woods  /  The Canadian Press via AP file
Vince Li stabbed, beheaded and cannibalized a man on a bus.
updated 3/5/2009 12:11:11 PM ET 2009-03-05T17:11:11

A Canadian judge ruled Thursday that a man accused of beheading and cannibalizing a fellow Greyhound bus passenger is not criminally responsible due to mental illness.

The decision means Chinese immigrant Vince Li will be treated in a mental institution instead of going to prison. The victim's family dismissed the trial as a "rubber stamp" that allows Li to get away with murder.

The judge said Li should not be held criminally accountable for stabbing Tim McLean dozens of times last July and dismembering his body while horrified passengers fled. Both the prosecution and the defense had also argued Li can't be held responsible because he is mentally ill.

Justice John Scurfield said Li's attack was "grotesque" and "barbaric" but "strongly suggestive of a mental disorder."

"He did not appreciate the actions he committed were morally wrong. He believed he was acting in self-defense," Scurfield said.

Both the prosecution and the defense argued Li can't be held responsible because Li was suffering from schizophrenia and believed God wanted him to kill McLean because the young man was a force of evil.

Annual review for release
He will be institutionalized without a criminal record and will be reassessed every year by a mental health review board to determine if he is fit for release into the community.

Li's trial barely lasted two days and only heard from two witnesses, both psychiatrists, who testified he is mentally ill.

That Li killed the 22-year-old carnival worker was never in question at the trial. Li has admitted he killed McLean but pleaded not guilty.

Witnesses said Li attacked McLean unprovoked 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 McLean dozens of times and beheaded and mutilated his body. Finding himself locked inside the bus, Li finally escaped through a window and was arrested.

Li then 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 prosecution Wednesday testified that Li cut up McLean's body because he believed that he would come back to life and take revenge.

Victim's family wants law changed
McLean's family is vowing to turn their attention to fighting the law that allows people who are found not criminally responsible to be released into the community once they are deemed well, without serving a minimum sentence in jail.

McLean's mother, Carol deDelley, said her son didn't die in vain. His death highlights concerns about the justice system, she said.

"Now people are aware that there is a problem," she said.

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

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,

Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments