Letisha Reimer, 13, was killed Nov. 1, 2016 in a stabbing at Abbotsford Senior Secondary.

In surprise move, defence won’t call witnesses for accused in Abbotsford school killing

‘Change of instructions’ results in defence closing case without calling evidence

The lawyer for the man charged in the fatal 2016 stabbing at Abbotsford Senior Secondary surprised the courtroom Monday by announcing he wouldn’t be calling any evidence in his client’s defence.

Gabriel Klein, 24, is charged with the second-degree murder of 13-year-old Letisha Reimer on Nov. 1, 2016, and the aggravated assault of a 14-year-old girl (whose name is protected by a publication ban).

Klein’s trial began in B.C. Supreme Court on Oct. 1, but was paused throughout November and the start of December to allow another psychiatric assessment to be conducted.

The trial – which is being heard only by a justice, with no jury present – was expected to focus on Klein’s mindset on the day of the killings. His lawyer, Martin Peters, had suggested that he would argue Klein was “not criminally responsible” (NCR) for his actions due to mental illness.

Klein, who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, was previously been found unfit to stand trial on three separate occasions. The BC Review Board ruled in January of this year that he was fit and could stand trial.

The defence was expected to begin its case Monday, including evidence from the psych assessment. It was also previously hinted that Klein would take the stand.

But Peters said in court that he had received a “change of instructions” from his client, and the defence would not be presenting any evidence.

“The defence case is now closed,” Peters said.

Crown lawyer Rob Macgowan said the announcement came as a surprise.

Speaking outside of the courtroom, Peters said he could not discuss why there had been a change in direction and why other witnesses – such as psychiatrists – were not called to testify for the defence. He said those reasons are protected by lawyer-client privilege under the law.

Both sides now come back to the New Westminster courthouse on Monday to begin their closing submissions, which are expected to take two or three days.

Peters is expected to use the NCR defence in his closing arguments.

Macgown, who concluded the Crown’s case on Nov. 1, said in his opening submissions on the first day of the trial that neither side is disputing that Klein stabbed the two girls.

The issue to be determined is whether Klein had the capacity to appreciate his actions and know right from wrong at the time of the offence.

RELATED: Man charged in fatal Abbotsford school stabbing to use ‘not criminally responsible’ defence, trial hears

RELATED: Accused Abbotsford school killer found fit to stand trial

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Interior Health reports 18 COVID-19 cases, highest daily count since July

The total of COVID-19 cases in the region is now at 662

Grade 7 Trafalgar students show off posters they put up around downtown Nelson with information about residential schools. Photo: Tyler Harper
Trafalgar class puts up residential school history posters downtown

The Grade 7 students made their own websites and QR codes

The Capitol Theatre has been transformed into a courtroom for the trial of Const. Jason Tait that started on Sept. 28 and continues. Photo: Bill Metcalfe
Defence begins presenting evidence in Nelson jury trial of RCMP officer

Const. Jason Tait is charged with manslaughter after a Castlegar incident in 2015

The West Kootenay Cycling Coalition says GoByBike Week was a success. Photo: Submitted
A round of applause for GoByBike Week supporters

Nearly 200 cyclists participated

Leah Main is entering her second term as a director of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. File photo
Silverton councillor re-elected as a board member of national municipal group

Leah Main will continue on the board of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives a daily briefing on COVID-19 cases at an almost empty B.C. Legislature press theatre in Victoria, B.C., on March 25, 2020. (Don Craig/B.C. government)
B.C. sees 223 new COVID-19 cases, now 2,009 active

Two new care home outbreaks in Surrey, Burnaby

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Chastity Davis-Alphonse took the time to vote on Oct. 21. B.C’s general Election Day is Saturday, Oct. 24. (Chastity Davis-Alphonse Facebook photo)
B.C. reconciliation advocate encourages Indigenous women to vote in provincial election

Through the power of voice and education Chastity Davis-Alphonse is hopeful for change

White Rock RCMP Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls has released a report on mental health and policing in the city. (File photos)
White Rock’s top cop wants to bill local health authority for lengthy mental-health calls

‘Suggestion’ included in nine-page review calling for ‘robust’ support for healthcare-led response

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

Green party Leader Sonia Furstenau arrives to announce her party’s election platform in New Westminster, B.C., on October 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Green party says it’s raised nearly $835,000 in 38 days

NDP Leader John Horgan is holding his final virtual campaign event

Most Read