Eight years after a horrific incident in which a passenger on a Greyhound bus was decapitated, the man found not criminally responsible for the death has received an absolute discharge.
Though he has already been living in the community since 2016, 38-year-old Will Baker was still required to continue taking medication for his schizophrenia, disclose his address to his medical team, and to have no contact with the family of his victim. At a recent Criminal Code Review Board meeting in Winnipeg, Baker's attorney argued that an absolute discharge was reasonable given the progress his client has made. Such a discharge would mean that Baker would be free of any restrictions, including needing to attend annual reviews as is currently required under the Criminal Code of Canada.
In July of 2008, Will Baker, then known as Vince Li, was traveling on a Greyhound bus that was traveling from Edmonton to Saskatchewan. According to witnesses, Baker produced a large knife and attacked 22-year-old Tim McLean who happened to be sitting next to him. The bus driver stopped the vehicle and allowed all the other passengers to escape. He then attempted to rescue McLean with the aid of two other passengers though they were chased away by Baker who slashed at them with his knife. Baker then decapitated his victim and showed the head to the passengers waiting outside before removing other body parts and eating them. Members of a nearly RCMP regiment managed to arrest Baker who had been prevented from escaping from the bus.
Following his arrest, Baker told doctors that he had committed the murder because he had heard God's voice telling him to kill McLean before he could execute him. Baker also said that he had been sent by God to prevent an alien attack. After being found not criminally responsible, he was remanded to the Selkirk Mental Health Centre in Selkirk, Manitoba until his community release in 2016.
Described as a "model patient" who is deemed to be a low risk to re-offend, one psychiatrist who testified during the recent meeting expressed confidence that Baker would continue to seek treatment and ask for help if his symptoms recur. According to Dr. Jeffrey Waldman, many patients who receive absolute discharges continue with therapy even after their restrictions are removed. Baker has stated that he is willing to have his medication monitored even after absolute discharge. Under cross-examination, Dr. Waldman admitted that it was possible Baker would stop treatment but this was "not probable." Baker has also stated that he plans to go to China to visit relatives after receiving his discharge.
Given the nature of his gruesome crime, many hearing of his discharge application remain skeptical of Baker's rehabilitation. Carol de Delley, the mother of Tim McLean, is particularly outspoken about any attempt to ease Baker's restrictions. ""What if he chooses to stop his medication again? In a nutshell, I don't believe that should be his choice to make anymore," she said in an interview with CBC News. "A secure facility where he can continue to receive treatment for the rest of his natural life is where he belongs. Has everyone forgotten what he did to Timothy?"