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Fate of admitted serial killer Jeremy Skibicki in hands of judge following trial

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Admitted serial killer Jeremy Skibicki’s defence lawyers have argued the accused had a history of schizophrenic delusions culminating in “catastrophic circumstances,” while Crown prosecutors say the killings of four vulnerable Indigenous women were driven by Skibicki’s racist views and deviant sexual urges.

After a month-long trial in Manitoba’s Court of King’s Bench, Crown and defence lawyers made their closing arguments Monday.

The 37-year-old accused has admitted to killing four Indigenous women but has pleaded not guilty to four counts of first-degree murder. His lawyers are asking the court to find him not criminally responsible by way of mental disorder.

“Delusions are driving a lot of what he is doing,” Skibicki’s defence lawyer Leonard Tailleur told the court Monday.

The court has heard previously between March and May 2022, Skibicki went to homeless shelters in Winnipeg where he preyed on four Indigenous women: Rebecca Contois, Morgan Harris, Marcedes Myran, and an unidentified woman who Indigenous leaders have named Mashkode Bizhiki'ikwe or Buffalo Woman.

After inviting them back to his apartment, the court was told Skibicki assaulted the women, often sexually, strangled or drowned them, defiled their bodies, and disposed of the remains in garbage bins.

Skibicki’s mental state has been the centre of the case.

Tailleur argued the accused had a long struggle with schizophrenia – pointing to Skibicki’s medical records that reference schizophrenia, along with “delusions” that he had a “direct line to God” and that he was compelled by God to kill the women and defile their bodies.

Tailleur further pointed to the evidence of Dr. Sohom Das, a U.K.-based forensic psychiatrist who testified he believed Skibicki has schizophrenia.

However, Crown prosecutors argued Skibicki was never actually diagnosed with schizophrenia.

“There is no evidence that Jeremy Skibicki was suffering from a mental disorder,” Crown prosecutor Renee Lagimodiere said in her closing submissions.

She pointed to the evidence of court-appointed psychiatrist Dr. Gary Chaimowitz, who testified he didn’t believe Skibicki had schizophrenia or any other major mental health disorder. He told the court Skibicki’s self-described delusions and schizophrenic symptoms were fabrications made after his arrest.

Chaimowitz testified Skibicki’s actions were instead driven by homicidal necrophilia – an arousal or sexual attraction to corpses.

“In addition to demonstrating beyond a reasonable doubt that Jeremy Skibicki killed the four victims with intentional, purposeful racial motivations, he also killed them to fulfil his deviant sexual urges,” Lagimodiere said.

Crown Prosecutor Chris Vanderhooft pointed the court to all the evidence the Crown brought forward during the course of the trial – such as the security video showing Skibicki throwing the remains of three of his victims into garbage bins and dumpsters.

However, much of the Crown’s argument centred on Skibicki’s confession to police during an hour-long video interview, in which he described in graphic detail how he killed the four women, defiled their bodies and disposed of their remains – two of which he dismembered in his bathtub.

“Everything he told police was true,” Vanderhooft argued, describing the evidence against Skibicki as “powerful and overwhelming.”

He argued the killings were planned and deliberate and asked the court to find Skibicki guilty on all four counts of first-degree murder.

In closing, Vanderhooft directed the court to an internet search Skibicki made in the hours after killing, defiling, dismembering and disposing of Myran’s body.

“To answer Mr. Skibicki’s own question when he did a Google search … what is the definition of a serial killer? The answer, Mr. Skibicki, is you.”

Chief Justice Glenn Joyal has reserved his decision. He is expected to deliver his verdict on July 11.

There is a support line available for those impacted by missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, and LGBTQ2S+ people: 1-844-413-6649.

The Hope for Wellness Hotline for Indigenous people, with support in Cree, Ojibway, and Inuktitut, is also available 24/7 in Canada at 1-855-242-3310

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