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

Verdict slated in trial of man charged with Abbotsford high school stabbing

Decision expected Friday morning in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster

The man who went to trial for the fatal stabbing of an Abbotsford high school student will find out today (Friday) whether he is guilty of manslaughter or second-degree murder.

Justice Heather Holmes is scheduled to render her verdict against Gabriel Klein, 24, at 10 a.m. in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster. It is not known whether a sentencing hearing will follow or will be scheduled for a later date.

During closing arguments in December, both lawyers agreed that Klein was responsible for killing Letisha Reimer, 13, by stabbing her 14 times while she sat in the rotunda of Abbotsford Senior Secondary on Nov. 1, 2016.

The lawyers also both agreed that Klein was guilty of the aggravated assault of a 14-year-old girl (whose name is under a publication ban) who was also stabbed by him.

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

However, defence lawyer Martin Peters said Klein should be found guilty of manslaughter in Reimer’s death because he did not intend to kill her.

Peters said Klein, who stole alcohol from a liquor store and a hunting knife from a Cabela’s store in the hours before the attack, committed the thefts because he wanted to get drunk and use the weapon to stab a police officer in hopes of triggering a suicide-by-cop scenario.

Peters said Klein was experiencing a “mental dysfunction” and he thought Reimer was a “shape-shifting witch” and the other girl was a “monster with maggots coming out of her back.”

RELATED: No defence witnesses in trial of man charged in killing of Abbotsford student

But Crown lawyer Rob Macgowan said a second-degree murder conviction would be more fitting because Klein – who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia – was not experiencing a mental disorder at the time of the attacks.

Peters had been expected to call evidence supporting an argument of “not criminally responsible (NCR) due to a mental disorder,” but he announced in court in early December that he was not calling any evidence on Klein’s behalf, and he did not use the NCR defence in his closing arguments.

A conviction for second-degree murder carries an automatic life sentence, but parole eligibility can range from 10 to 25 years and is determined by the judge.

There is no minimum sentence for manslaughter (unless committed by a firearm, in which case the minimum is four years), but any term – including life imprisonment – is an option for the judge.

– with files from The Canadian Press

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Vikki Hopes | Reporter

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Gabriel Klein sits in the prisoner’s dock during the first day of his trial on Oct. 7 in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster. (Sketch by Felicity Don)

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