Why Bruce Macarthur decided to plead guilty to the eight first-degree murder charges was not explained on Tuesday morning, although the police hinted that answers might still come.
MacArthur’s assumption at the Toronto court building that he had killed eight people was not surprising — the police had previously stated that a “significant event” was coming. But confessions can be rare in large lawsuits, because during preparation the defense can determine the strength of the Crown case, according to B.S. criminal lawyer Marilyn Sandford.
“The first question is always: can they prove their case?” Sandford, who was part of the legal team that represented the serial killer Robert Picton, said in an interview with CBC News earlier this month.
"You want to be able to give [your client] This is an opinion before you rush to negotiate a plea agreement, because you need to be able to tell them the strengths and weaknesses of the case so that they can make an informed decision about what to do. ”
It was expected that the trial of MacArthur would take three to four months, and the date of the trial was scheduled for January 6, 2020, which means that his team had almost another year to find weaknesses.
Outside the courthouse, Det. David Dickinson, one of the lead investigators in the case, indicated that he would comment on the reasons for which MacArthur pleaded guilty later. Inhale Hank Edsing, the head of the investigation, also suggested that additional information might appear about MacArthur’s motivation to plead guilty.
“We'll see what else goes to court next week,” he told CBC News.
Instead, Ontario Supreme Court Justice John McMahon began the trial by asking MacArthur if he understood exactly what it meant to plead guilty, and warned that he could not plead guilty to what he had not done, only to bring the case to the end.
Does MacArthur understand, McMahon asked, that he waives his right to a court?
MacArthur simply replied: "Yes."
McMahon also asked if there was pressure on the former landscape designer from family, friends, lawyers, or the police involved in his case. MacArthur said no.
McMahon said pleading guilty meant that he had to sentence MacArthur to life imprisonment. Will he serve the sentence simultaneously or sequentially will be decided next week.
“So you understand that you will have to serve at least until '91, before you can apply for parole,” said McMahon. "Do you understand it? Do you understand it, sir?"
"Yes, your honor," said MacArthur.
MacArthur made his request 11 days after the anniversary of his arrest and a year after the police first used the label "serial killer" to describe the perpetrator of the eight murders for which he is now convicted.
He was taken to court in handcuffs, with a shaved head, in a blue sweater – the one he wore on numerous court speeches – with a checkered shirt downstairs and jeans.
It was a different image from a smiling and stocky man with a beard, which can be seen in Facebook photos that were circulated in the media.
"This man is much older, slouching, very thin," said Karen Fraser, who hired MacArthur as a landscape designer, and whose property he used to bury his victims.
“I knew a man who was always energetic, full of enthusiasm, was eager to move on to the next one. And this is just a shuffled, broken man, as he should be. ”
The courtroom was full, filled mostly with journalists, policemen, friends, and the families of the victims. The latter expressed little emotion, sitting with a grim face when MacArthur's crimes were spoken, and his requests were told in court.
MacArthur stood hunched, his fingertips leaned on the wooden banner in front, his eyes were set aside, staring blankly at anyone, neither the judge nor the court clerk, who read out every murder charge aloud, calling every murder victim: Andrew Kinsman, 49 years old, Selim Esen, 44 years old, Skandaraj Navaratnam, 40 years old, Abdulbasir Faizi, 44 years old, Kirushna Kumar Kanagaratnam, 37 years old, Dean Lisovik, 47 years old, Sorush Mahmoudi, 50 years old, and Majid Kayhan, 58 years old.
Of the eight victims, seven were associated with the Toronto LGBT community.
When the clerk finished reading the charges, MacArthur was asked to plead guilty after each count.
“Guilty,” he repeated eight times.
Several Toronto policemen sat in the front row of the courtroom facing MacArthur’s back. Among these officers were Dickinson and Idsing, who became the face of this investigation, which attracted international attention.
“A bit emotional, a bit surreal,” said Edings, feeling afterwards. “Absolutely this is closing. This is not happiness, this is not something to celebrate. It's good to do that. ”
It is still unknown how MacArthur killed his victims. But on Tuesday, the court heard in a shortened version of the agreed statement of facts that all eight murders were planned and deliberate, that six were sexual in nature, that MacArthur had left some of his victims' items as souvenirs and "Put" some of them, although what it meant was not clear.
It is expected that the full details of these crimes will be revealed next week at a sentencing hearing at which friends and family will make statements about the consequences for the victim.
McMahon said he hopes to read the statements in advance, and recalled that there are certain things that can and cannot be included in such statements. An oath or threat, for example, is not allowed.
“I don’t want to be in a position on Monday when I have to reject some of the statements about the impact of the victims … close people, because they don’t fit in the place where we should be.
"It is important to see the impact this has had on your life."
McMahon said that everyone would be interested in the case being completed next week, "so that it would be closed to the family, to Mr. MacArthur, to all involved."