WINNIPEG — A man who killed a sleeping passenger on a Greyhound bus must remain locked up under heavy security at a Manitoba psychiatric facility, a provincial review board ruled Wednesday.
Vince Li will be sent to the high-risk ward at the Selkirk Mental Health Centre as soon as a bed becomes available. Until then, he remains under 24-hour supervision at the secure PX3 ward of the Health Sciences Centre, where he has been since last August.
John Stefaniuk, chairman of the review board, told the Free Press they adapted the recommendations made earlier this week from Li’s treating psychiatrist. Detailed reasons for the decision are expected to be prepared in the next two or three months, but a decision hasn’t been made on whether they will be made public, said Stefaniuk.
"That’s still something we’re going to be discussing," he said.
Li will be eligible to have his status reviewed again in June 2010 and on an annual basis going forward.
Winnipegger Tim McLean, 22, was repeatedly stabbed, beheaded and dismembered in front of nearly three dozen witnesses on a Greyhound bus outside Portage la Prairie last summer. Li was suffering from untreated schizophrenia and psychotic delusions at the time which included hearing commands from God ordering him to kill McLean, who he apparently viewed as a demon. Li was found not criminally responsible of murder during his trial in March.
The review board convened for the first time this week with three options – immediately release Li into the community with no conditions, grant him a conditional discharge or keep him in a secured mental health facility.
Dr. Stanley Yaren testified Monday that Li remains a risk to the public, and himself, and should be detained indefinitely. He admitted the schizophrenic man had made "significant progress" and left the door open for a potential return to society one day. He said Li has been taking his medication, is no longer haunted by voices and has gone three months without having a psychotic episode.
But Yaren also warned that Li has yet to be tested outside an "extremely controlled and regimented environment" and will always remain a risk for relapse.
Stefaniuk said Wednesday they agreed with Yaren’s request to have two peace officers assigned to guard Li if he needs to leave the secured facility for any reason, such as medical care or appointments.
Lawyers representing McLean’s family have criticized the board for refusing to give them legal standing at the hearing and for editing some the victim impact statements they read aloud in court this week.
Stefaniuk quickly rejected a conflict-of-interest motion to remove himself from Li’s hearing on the grounds his law firm is representing Greyhound Canada in an ongoing civil suit the family has filed. Although he is an environmental lawyer with no direct involvement in the case, lawyers claim he would have "privileged information" about Li based on his role in the firm.
Stefaniuk also refused to hear arguments regarding whether to release specific reasons for the board’s decision. He said last week government lawyers had warned that publicizing the information could violate Li’s rights under the provincial privacy and personal health information acts.
Lawyers Norman Boudreau and Jay Prober said there are no legal grounds to withhold the entire decision and they will likely take their argument to the Manitoba Court of Appeal, if necessary.