A schizophrenic who beheaded a fellow Greyhound bus passenger last summer is no longer bedevilled by voices in his head but still needs to be locked up under the "highest level of security possible," a review board has heard.
Psychiatrist Stanley Yaren says when he first met Vince Li after the bloody attack last July, the man was incoherent, hallucinating and suicidal.
"Now his thought processes are organized. He is no longer tormented by voices and he is beginning to understand what his illness is all about," Dr. Yaren testified yesterday. "He has made significant progress."
Mr. Li has been taking his medication and hasn't had a psychotic episode in three months, Dr. Yaren said. Still, the doctor recommended that Mr. Li be kept under lock and key at a mental hospital while he undergoes further treatment.
Mr. Li was found not criminally responsible for killing Tim McLean in front of horrified passengers near Portage la Prairie, Man. A judge ruled in March that Mr. Li suffered from untreated schizophrenia and did not realize that killing the 22-year-old carnival worker was wrong.
Manitoba's Criminal Code review board is to decide whether Mr. Li should stay institutionalized, be given a conditional release or granted an absolute discharge. The review board is to make a ruling later in the week.
Mr. Li was brought into the hearing shackled at the wrists and ankles. He listened to the evidence with his hands crossed in his lap. He eyes were fixed on the floor, expressionless.
Mr. McLean's mother, Carol deDelley, cried through much of the hearing and held a tissue to her mouth. She was comforted by friends and family, all wearing T-shirts bearing Mr. McLean's picture.
Dr. Yaren is the only witness at the hearing.
He testified that Mr. Li has been fairly withdrawn in the institution where he is currently housed. He watches movies and plays cards, but for the most part keeps to himself. A Chinese immigrant, Mr. Li asked for a Chinese edition of the Bible and reads it frequently, Dr. Yaren said.
An agreed statement of facts read at Mr. Li's short trial detailed how he was sitting next to a sleeping Mr. McLean on the bus when he thought he heard the voice of God.
"Suddenly the sunshine came in the bus and the voice said, 'Quick. Hurry up. Kill him and then you'll be safe,' " Mr. Li told one of his psychiatrists. "It was so quick, such an angry voice, and I had to do what it said. I was told that if I didn't listen to the voice, I would die immediately."
Mr. Li stabbed Mr. McLean dozens of times and then scattered his body parts around the bus.
Ms. deDelley is pressing the federal government to change the Criminal Code so people who are found not criminally responsible still serve time in jail.
If Mr. Li were institutionalized following the hearing, he would have to appear before the review board every year to determine if he was well enough to be released. It's possible that the details of the board's decision will not all be made public.
The board's chairman initially said government lawyers had advised that releasing the information could violate Mr. Li's rights under the province's privacy and personal health information acts.