I recently was struck with an inner war in myself. I
always thought that deciding whether or not a murderer should be free was an easy choice. If you kill someone, you should not get to live an exciting normal life after that. You take a life; you should lose the rights to living yours freely.
So it all seemed simple to me when Vince Li beheaded fellow Greyhound bus passenger, Tim McLean, in 2008. The punishment should be spending the remainder of his life in jail. It would be only a remote pain reducer for the victimís family, other than Li killing himself, which was what he originally asked for.
When I first heard the news that Li would be allowed out for supervised day trips, I was extremely unimpressed. How does a man who cuts up another human being and even performs cannibalism acts on said human, be released into the public? Supervised or not, who would be able to even stop him if this happened again? No one could the first time!
Mr. Li, I am sorry that you have Schizophrenia. That is terrible. I just do not understand how that excuses anything. Normally, when the reason of mental illness comes into play for a smaller crime, I am understanding and try to understand that the accused needs some help. Acts such as petty theft, public intoxication; even simple assault, I could handle giving a get out of jail free card. Completely destroying the body of an innocent man because you thought he was an alien; not so much! I understand that itís not the person you are Mr.Li, it is the illness. Maybe jail isnít the right place for you, as you will not receive adequate medical care there. But for the sake of the McLean family, it would be nice if you stayed at the mental health facility all the time.
An interview was conducted recently at the Selkirk Mental Health Centre in Manitoba by Chris Summerville, CEO of the Schizophrenia Society of Canada, who said he has spoken with Li once every two months, on average, since Liís confinement began.
In the recent interview Li gave Summerville short brief answers to all his questions. Yes, I understand the man has broken English, and most likely cannot fully express himself, but to me these answers werenít good enough. I thought that, after reading the full interview, I would feel compassion and understanding towards Li, but I didnít. Not at all, this is unlike me. In the interview I was hit hard by the information revealing Liís parents were completely unaware of what had happened in 2008. His two siblings are aware of what happened, but no one has told his mother or father yet. This also seems unfair to me, because Timís family were not given an option to not know. They deal with this incident everyday and have to deal with no longer having their son around.
I have now taken sides with McLeanís mother, Carol de Delley, who is campaigning for Timís Law, which would keep people judged not criminally responsible for a homicide confined for life.
She believes that Li is ďa very unpredictably dangerous person.Ē de Delley has given numerous media interviews in an attempt to heighten the awareness of the issues surrounding Vincent Li. While she is not concerned about security and surveillance while Li is in the care of the hospital, de Delley does question his activities outside of confinement.
Cases like that of Andre Denny in Nova Scotia are what worry me most. Denny was a patient at East Coast Forensic Hospital after being found not criminally responsible for an assault charge. He left the hospital on a one-hour leave one night and didnít return. He was then charged with murdering Raymond Taavel, a well-known member of Halifaxís gay community, that same evening. Denny was known to police, the courts, the mental health establishmentÖ he was supposed to be in their care and they were responsible for keeping him from harming others. And I believe that this could happen if they release Li as well. Who will be responsible for making sure he continues on his medication?
Unfortunately, it is expected that Li will be given more freedom in the days to come. The Board is expected to render their decision shortly.
I want to understand the other side. And to a certain extent, I do see that while committing this crime, Vince Li was not himself. He remembers every moment of doing it though and the horrific details. He embarked on a journey across the country with a knife he purchased at Canadian Tire, to protect him against the aliens. How could no one see warning signs with this man?
More cases and reasons to sign the Timís Law petition can be found on www.timslaw.ca