Man who stabbed two students in Abbotsford, B.C., found criminally responsible

·2 min read

NEW WESTMINSTER, B.C. — A man who stabbed two high school students in Abbotsford, B.C., more than four years ago has been found criminally responsible for his actions.

Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes of the B.C. Supreme Court rejected Gabriel Klein's argument that he suffered a mental disorder that made him unable to appreciate the nature of his actions or that they were wrong.

Klein's testimony was "wholly unreliable," she said, and psychosis is not the only explanation for his actions.

Klein was convicted last year for the murder of 13-year-old Letisha Reimer and the aggravated assault of her friend in the rotunda of Abbotsford Senior Secondary in 2016.

"Most of the inconsistencies do not seem attributable to the normal frailties of memory or the distinctive features of Mr. Klein's mental health history or status," Holmes said Thursday as she read part of her judgment out loud.

"Rather, they show a selective abandoning or denying of details that do not support" a ruling in Klein's favour, she said.

The ruling means the case will now proceed to his sentencing.

Klein was convicted in March 2020 and applied for the hearing over criminal responsibility a week before sentencing was set to begin in September.

He was diagnosed with schizophrenia and other mental disorders while in custody, not long after his arrest.

During the hearing to determine if he was not criminally responsible for the murders, Klein said he saw monsters, not girls, in the rotunda and that voices in his head ordered him to kill them. He had no prior connection to Reimer or her friend.

There is ample evidence that Klein was angry in the days leading up to the attack and he often blamed others for what he perceived as a failure to help him the way he wanted them to, Holmes said.

He threatened to kill himself, including suicide by police, and stole a knife with that in mind before heading to the library connected to the school, Holmes said.

He may have exaggerated his suicidal thoughts and depression, but he was certainly upset and may have been mentally unstable, she said.

A personality disorder may have contributed to his actions, involving factors such as impulsivity, aggression, difficulty controlling his anger and disregard of his own safety and the safety of others, she said.

Alcohol may have also played a disinhibiting role.

"Nothing can provide a reason for Mr. Klein's action in the sense of a rational basis, however the factors I've just outlined indicate that psychosis is not the only plausible explanation for this unprovoked attack on two girls he did not know in a school with which he had no association."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 22, 2021.

Amy Smart, The Canadian Press