General Question

flo's avatar

Is it or is it not torture having to watch the video in the following criminal case?

Asked by flo (11125points) September 10th, 2014

What more can the jurors learn by watching it? Is it an injustice to the jurors? How can the court insist that jurors go through psychological torture and for no good reason in the end? Isn’t it enough to describe it? Shouldn’t there be a limit?
Luca Magnotta

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27 Answers

jca's avatar

I’m sure it will be difficult but no more or less difficult than watching or looking at evidence in other murder or torture trials, where the victims were dismembered.

CWOTUS's avatar

What video?

Typically in these types of cases – at least in American courts, and from what I’ve heard and read elsewhere – jurors are given advance warning / notification of heinously graphic / gruesome evidence and are allowed to excuse themselves from witnessing that, at least to the extent that it’s not the linchpin of the entire case. Presumably they will also be informed about the graphic nature of the evidence during voir dire (however that is done in Canadian courts), and may even excuse themselves at that time if they determine that they aren’t willing to face that.

Coloma's avatar

I would be okay with it, and would not consider it torture to watch.
I am not terribly squeamish and can handle body parts and gore. I don’t think it is really necessary considering one can imagine what a dismembered human might look like, but, for some fragile types t may be traumatic.

LuckyGuy's avatar

I’m not sure a showing serves any purpose. A verbal description should be enough. It can be made available on demand if a juror doubts its authenticity.

seekingwolf's avatar

I think it’s necessary to show the video. A verbal description is not enough. A video shows a lot more than just “deeds”, you can see faces/expressions and there’s so much that can’t be portrayed just through words alone. If I were a prosecution lawyer, I would not feel comfortable relying on a verbal description alone because that would require jurors to visualize the crime. If the crime is quite heinous, I would doubt their ability to do so.

Would you rather a jury come to a verdict based on the actual, real video evidence of a crime, or would you rather they base it on their visualizations in their head that they formed from reading a description? It’s like secondhand knowledge.

That being said, someone who is especially squeamish/extremely averse to gore should bee excused from participating in a upcoming murder trial where very gory video evidence must be viewed.

Personally, I would view the video and it would bother me as it would anyone, but it wouldn’t be torture.

jca's avatar

In my case, if I were one of the jurors, it’s not the blood and gore that would upset me, it would be seeing a person or an animal suffer while still alive.

zenvelo's avatar

One needs to understand evidentiary requirements. To enter the video into evidence and have it used, the jury has to see it to weight its accuracy and to judge it.

flo's avatar

If a juror enjoys seeing these kind of things but then he wouldn’t reveal that he loves it, he would not be fit to be a juror since he would be biased against the prosecution. That is another thing.

Why did he plead not guilty? Is he claiming that is not him in the video or that he is not guilty because he was justified in doing it? Does anyone see the answer to this question?

@zenvelo ”....the jury has to see it to weight its accuracy and to judge it.” Wouldn’t it be the experts (forensic somethings) who have already decided that it is him doing the deed in order to for the prosecution to charge him?

zenvelo's avatar

@flo That isn’t how the jury system works. The “experts” may make a determination to charge him, but being charged doesn’t mean you are guilty!

If we are relying on “experts” why have a jury? So they can convict without a jury?

flo's avatar

@zenvelo the only person who does the charging is the prosecutor, not the experts. The experts are the expert witnesses for the defendant or the prosecution. So, for example a psychologist, car expert etc. In this case if he is denying that is him there in the video, it would be….
How about the other 2 points in my last post @zenvelo?

flo's avatar

@seekingwolf “you can see faces/expressions and there’s so much that can’t be portrayed just through words alone.”
So, if the facial expression is more on the blank side, let,s say, it would lead the jurors to what? The crime is so unspeakably heinous.

@Coloma You might be thinking as a medical students with the cadaver etc. when you say you’r not squimeash, because I wouldn’t be surprised if you were confronted with it as a juror if you find it different story.
@jca How about all torture realted videos where the defendant is not denying it is him/her in the video.
@LuckyGuy Right on the money.

zenvelo's avatar

@flo One must plead not guilty to go to trial. If you plead guilty, you skip the trial and go straight to sentencing. And, there just might be a defense against first degree murder, maybe he can argue a lesser murder charge. And then he panicked and cut up the body because he was scared.

Yes, someone who enjoyed snuff films and films of debasing a corpse might want to get on the juror. I would hope there was enough check on the jurors to stop that from happening.

seekingwolf's avatar


Well, I guess it depends too on what the defense is claiming. Was the suspect under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the crime? Is he claiming mental illness? Stress? The jurors may be taking into account what the defense is saying as they watch that video. It’s hard to say what they would think about a blank expression. Perhaps they could think “well maybe his claim that he was under the influence of drugs is really true because how could someone be so emotionless as they did that?” or maybe they’d think “wow that is really cold and sociopathic, this man is sick and needs to be put away.”

I have seen snuff films. A lot of it I stumbled upon years ago out of accident and maybe a little bit of morbid curiosity. Oye…that was too much. I found them very disturbing though, not something I would enjoy at all. But it’s not like I got sick or had nightmares after seeing them. It did take me a half day or so to decompress so I could stop the images from popping up again. But half a day later, I was fine.

For this reason, I think I could be a juror who could view the film and make a rational, calm choice based on what I was seeing. I wouldn’t enjoy it but I would be able to sit through it and use it along with the other evidence in the verdict vote.

flo's avatar

@zenvelo “One must plead not guilty to go to trial. If you plead guilty, you skip the trial and go straight to sentencing.” Of course. Did he plead not guilty, i.e in I didn’t do it or I am not guilty because I have a good reason for doing it? Where is this piece of information and if there isn’t why isn’t there?

“I would hope there was enough check on the jurors to stop that from happening.”
What makes you say that? I’m willing to bet anything that there isn’t. Can you point me to anything that shows that there is?

flo's avatar

@seekingwolf what person who could watch this kind of thing, willingly, (edit to add: and enjoy it) would say that they enjoy it?

seekingwolf's avatar

@flo There are some pretty sick people out there that would enjoy it. Why? My guess is maybe they like to see others suffer or something? I don’t really know, just a guess. I’ve met a few sickos like that and I don’t want to try and get into their heads.

But I don’t think many, if any, would admit that they do.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@flo But do you have any reason to suspect that any of the jurors have a desire to watch the videos? I don’t understand why this is a big concern for you.

I mean, the jurors are picked at random, it’s not like they can volunteer to be on the jury of any one specific case. There must be very few people who would enjoy watching torture – the odds that one of those people were selected at random out of the entire city’s population for this specific trial must be very, very small.

flo's avatar

Regardless of the odds of one of the jurors being sadist, it is a major flaw.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@flo If the odds are infinitesimally small… then no, it’s not a “major flaw”. It’s a tiny risk.

flo's avatar

@seekingwolf In my previous to last post I was responding to “I wouldn’t enjoy it…”.

@dappled_leaves ”.If the odds are infinitesimally small… then no, it’s not a “major flaw”. It’s a tiny risk.”
1)Edited: Considering that they don’t check how much horrorific videos potential jurors have on their hard drive, on the basis how much snuff films there is online, .. it is not infinitesimally small.
2)It is not a tiny risk if it is your life on the line.

3)“It is better that ten guilty men go free than that one innocent man be convicted.” something like that by William Blackstone.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@flo Now I’m really confused. Whose “life is on the line”? Why are you talking about innocent men being convicted? Are you asking your question about torture because you think Magnotta is innocent? That doesn’t sound right.

flo's avatar

@dappled_leaves I was counterig your ”...infinitesimally small_…” part.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@flo But are your responses related to the actual case? I’m having trouble understanding how your response is relevant to what I said.

flo's avatar

When it comes to justice/ legal system (whether it is fairness to the victim or victimizer) there should be no taking chaces, no the odds are this the odds are that. it doesn’t have to be just strictly about this particular case.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@flo So then, you would prefer that there were no trials by jury? I can’t think of another way to eliminate the risk that you are worried about. What would be your suggestion?

zenvelo's avatar

update today (9/29)

Trial started today.

During jury selection earlier this month, Judge Guy Cournoyer told potential jurors that they would be confronted with evidence that was likely to be “shocking and disturbing, which could be upsetting.”

flo's avatar

@dappled_leaves, I don’t have a suggestion, but I’m sure someone out there must have don’t you?
@zenvelo There is no escaping it though.

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