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 said Li got 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."
Li stabbed McLean dozens of times and dismembered his body last July while horrified passengers fled.
Justice John Scurfield said the attack was "barbaric" but "strongly suggestive of a mental disorder."
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"He did not appreciate the actions he committed were morally wrong," Scurfield said.
Both the prosecution and the defense argued Li can't be held responsible because he had schizophrenia and believed God wanted him to kill McLean because the young man was evil.
Li will be institutionalized without a criminal record and reassessed every year by a mental health review board to determine if he is fit for release.
DeDelley said a yearly hearing is ridiculous and Li should be locked up for the rest of his life.
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.
Passengers fled and stood outside 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 testified that Li cut up McLean's body because he believed that he would come back to life and take revenge.
After the trial, government prosecutor Joyce Dalmyn said people who are mentally ill should not be treated, not convicted, when they don't know what they did was wrong.
Li's lawyer, Alan Libman, said, "Mr. Li advised me after court that he's going to work with his treatment team because it's his desire to get better."
McLean's family says they will fight 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 jail sentence.