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This article was published 10/2/2017 (493 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The man behind a brutal random attack on a Greyhound bus near Portage la Prairie in 2008 has been given an absolute discharge.
Will Baker (formerly Vince Li) has been freed from any court-ordered responsibilities, the Criminal Code Review Board ruled late Friday afternoon.
That means he will no longer be subject to any conditions or monitoring to ensure he takes his medication.
The review board said it is "of the opinion that the weight of evidence does not substantiate that Mr. Baker poses significant threat to the safety of the public."
It based its decision on expert witnesses like Dr. Jeffrey Waldman, and submissions by counsel.
Waldman told the review board on Monday that Baker must take daily medications and continue seeing a psychiatrist, and believes he will do so.
Defence lawyer Alan Libman maintained Baker has been "a model patient" and that there is no legal reason why he shouldn't be granted an absolute discharge.
Baker's gradual increases in freedom have included escorted passes out of the Selkirk Mental Health Centre, unescorted absences, a move to a secure facility in Winnipeg and most recently a transition to independent, community-based living in a supervised group home in the city.
Baker has been described as a "model patient" who no longer suffers from the type of issues that triggered the July 2008 attack near Portage la Prairie. He was found not criminally responsible for the killing, dismemberment and cannibalization of 22-year-old Tim McLean after several medical experts said he was suffering from command hallucinations linked to untreated schizophrenia at the time of the unprovoked attack.
The Crown argued it was too dangerous to put responsibility on Baker to ensure he continues taking his doses of anti-psychotic medication, which have wiped away command hallucinations he was suffering when he killed a bus passenger.
The victim’s mother, Carol de Delley, has been outspoken against granting Baker freedom, arguing there would be no way to ensure he continued to take his medication.
De Delley commented briefly Friday in a Facebook posting.
"This just in....vince li/will baker was granted an absolute discharge today by the Manitoba review board. I have no comment today. I have no words..."
While the case was being heard on Monday, McLean's family let their feelings be known. The mother read a brief statement outside court summarizing the family's views.
"I don't believe for one second that Will Baker poses no threat. He will be a risk to public safety for the rest of his life. What if he chooses to stop his medication again? In a nutshell, I don't believe that should be his choice to make anymore," she said.
Baker’s defenders include Chris Summerville, executive director of the Manitoba Schizophrenia Society, who has met and worked with him over the years.
"He is no longer a violent person," Summerville said.
"I will say, yes, he absolutely understands that he has to (take his medication) and has a desire to live a responsible, moral life and never succumb to psychotic episodes and not to hurt anybody ever again."
On the night of the attack, Baker sat next to McLean — a complete stranger — after the young man smiled at him and asked how he was doing.
Baker said he heard the voice of God telling him to kill the young carnival worker or "die immediately."
He repeatedly stabbed McLean while the young man fought for his life. As passengers fled the bus, Baker continued stabbing and mutilating the body.
The Supreme Court of Canada ruled in 1999 that a review board must order an absolute discharge if a person doesn’t pose a significant threat to public safety.
The ruling added there must be clear evidence of a significant risk to the public for the review board to continue imposing conditions after a person is found not criminally responsible.
— staff, with files from The Canadian Press
Updated on Friday, February 10, 2017 at 8:25 PM CST: final write through