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Ontario man who killed, decapitated his mother guilty of 2nd-degree murder

WARNING: The following story contains disturbing, graphic details. Readers are advised to use discretion.

Dallas Ly, the 23-year-old Toronto man who admitted to stabbing his mother Tien Ly to death in March 2022 in the Carlaw Avenue condominium they shared before severing her head and trying to dispose of her remains, has been found guilty of second-degree murder.

The jury delivered its verdict just one day after being sequestered to begin deliberations at the University Avenue courthouse.

When the jury was first asked by the court registrar, “How do you find Dallas Ly on Count 1?” the foreman answered, “Not guilty.” The defence looked relieved. But then, the foreman corrected himself, saying, “I misunderstood the question. We find Dallas Ly guilty of second-degree murder.” Dallas appeared dejected.

On March 28, 2022, Toronto police were called to Eastern Avenue near Berkshire in Leslieville after a woman walking home from grocery shopping came across two garbage bags on a grassy area near the sidewalk containing what appeared to be human remains. Inside the garbage bags, police found the severed head of 50-year-old Tien and her decapitated body. Dallas, who was 21 at the time, was arrested a few days later at the Eaton’s Centre after unsuccessfully trying to flee the country.

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Testifying in his own defence, Dallas said on the night of March 27, 2022, his mother returned home from work and when she entered the ninth-floor unit, he told her he was going to move out and stay with his aunt. He told the jury his mother became very angry and started yelling in Vietnamese, threatening to kill him and his aunt. Dallas testified he went to his room while his mother continued yelling threats that she was going to hurt him, got his bag and took out a hunting knife to scare his mother.

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As his mother continued yelling that if he left, she would kill him and his aunt, he testified he told her to move but instead, his mother began punching and striking him in the face. It’s then, he told the jury, that he “saw red” and began throwing around the hunting knife, which struck her on the neck.

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A pathologist testified that Tien died of multiple stab wounds, suffering 27 in all.

Dallas testified he never meant to kill his mother and at first didn’t believe what he had done, but after he called her cellphone a few hours later and no one picked up, he realized what he had done. Panicked, he said he thought of cutting his mother up into small pieces but after cutting off her head, said he felt sick, put her head and body in garbage bags and used a shopping buggy to transport her body to Tommy Thompson Park, which he had searched online.

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As he was pushing the cart down Eastern Avenue, he said he hit a curb and the body began to come out of the bags so he abandoned his plan and left the garbage bags on the side of the road before running back home.

The Crown argued that Dallas intended to kill his mother, telling the jury in its closing that the night before Tien was fatally stabbed, she called her son and asked him to work the next day at the Yonge Street nail salon she owned. The Crown told the jury that Dallas was upset at having to go to work at the salon and was seeking revenge for years of physical and mental abuse.

A forensic psychiatrist for the defence testified that Dallas had suffered long-standing physical and mental abuse at the hands of his mother. Dallas testified his mother frequently punished him for bad grades when he was in school, striking him with a bamboo back-scratcher with a sharpened edge, shoehorns or slippers.

The defence told the jury that Dallas, who was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), never meant to kill his mother. Given the abuse and neglect he had suffered, he believed his mother’s threats to be real and was suddenly provoked by his abuser. The defence argued that given the nature, duration and history of the relationship between the mother and son, he reacted suddenly in the heat of the moment before regaining control.

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A forensic psychiatrist for the Crown who did not interview Dallas but who listened to him testify and did a peer review of the assessment done by the defence’s forensic psychiatrist said she believed that Dallas had been abused but could not say if he was suffering from PTSD at the time of the killing.

The judge instructed the jury if they had reasonable doubt that Dallas intended to kill his mother, they could find him guilty on the lesser offence of manslaughter or if they found he was acting in self-defence, they could find him not guilty.

Second-degree murder comes with an automatic life sentence with a parole ineligibility period of between 10 and 25 years. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled at a later date.

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