WINNIPEG, Manitoba — 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 family of victim Tim McLean dismissed the trial as a "rubber stamp" that allows Li to get away with murder.
"A crime was still committed here, a murder still occurred," said Carol deDelley, McLean's mother. "There was nobody else on that bus holding a knife, slicing up my child."
The judge said Li should not be held criminally accountable for stabbing McLean dozens of times last July and dismembering his body while horrified passengers fled.
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.
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.
DeDelley said a yearly hearing is ridiculous, and that Li should be locked up for the rest of his life.
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.
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.
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.