16 March 2009

Greyhound killer not culpable due to delusions

Vince Li, the 40-year-old Chinese immigrant who beheaded fellow Greyhound bus passenger Tim McLean, 22, near Portage La Prairie, Manitoba last year, has been found not criminally responsible for the act. Li claimed to psychiatrists who evaluated him that he had heard the voice of God tell him that McLean must be killed. When he was arrested after a standoff with police, Li reportedly told them, "I'm guilty, please kill me." Li has been found to be suffering from schizophrenia. He has been committed to a psychiatric institution in Manitoba, and can be released only once a board determines that he no longer poses a threat to the public (CBC).

This wasn't the first time Li, a Baptist, heard the voice of God; in fact, he told his wife Ana back in 2004 that he had seen God. In 2005, Li thought God's voice instructed him to walk from Toronto to Winnipeg (a distance of 1,518 km). Eventually, the police picked him up and took him to a psychiatric clinic in Toronto.

Li told a psychiatrist that "God choose me to kill him.... God choose my hand to kill, I truly believe that.... But sometimes I ask God why he picked me to do these things. I'm an average person. I still trust God. God is 90-99 percent good" (Ottawa Citizen).

What a tragic story. The Portage Daily Graphic/Central Plains Herald-Leader (seriously long-name for twin small-town newspapers) ran an editorial saying that Li should be jailed once the treatment for his schizophrenia is complete. First of all, what guarantee is there that Li will ever recover sufficiently to be released? Secondly, what Tara Seel of the Herald-Leader doesn't seem to appreciate is that Li clearly wasn't sane when he committed this horrible act. You can't blame someone for doing something unless he knew what he was doing. It's simple logic. It's also simple justice. Punishing a sick man is no solution to the pain of McLean's family, which must be deep indeed. I think the Manitoba justice system took exactly the right course of action in this case.


Liam said...

That is a tragic case.

The theology implied in the statement "God is 90-99% good" is startling, fascinating, and horrifying when you think about it."

Rashed said...

I agree. :(

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