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Did Ontario man who stabbed, decapitated his mother intend to kill her? Defence says no

The fate of Dallas Ly, a 23-year-old Toronto man charged with the second-degree murder of his mother Tien Ly, will soon be in the hands of a jury.

At closing arguments Thursday after a three-week trial, defence lawyer Jessyca Greenwood told jurors that Dallas did not intend to kill his mother on the night of March 27, 2022, when he struck her with a knife.

Greenwood said Dallas was provoked by his abusive single parent who had threatened to kill both him and his aunt after he told his mother he was moving out. She urged to jury to find Dallas not guilty of second-degree murder, saying the Crown had not proved beyond a reasonable doubt that he had the intent for a murder conviction.

Crown prosecutor Jay Spare argued Dallas may not have planned to kill his mother that night but intended to, saying the evidence supports that when he started to assault her with a knife, he ought to have known he could kill her or the bodily harm he inflicted could have killed her.

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Greenwood said there is no disputing that Dallas, who testified in his own defence, killed his 46-year-old mother, but said there is nothing in the evidence to show that he intended to kill Tien and that the Crown’s case is based on speculation.

The defence pointed to a diagnosis tendered by forensic psychiatrist Dr. Mitesh Patel, who found that Dallas was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder at the time of the offence, from years of physical and mental abuse at the hands of his mother.

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“The entire incident happened quickly and it lasted about two minutes. It was brought on by his mother’s physical and verbal attack set off by his decision to move out,” said Greenwood, who said her client began swinging a knife after Tien threatened to kill him and his aunt and threw punches at him.

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“The Crown has not proven an intentional homicide. In fact, we’d ask you to go a step further and accept Mr. Ly’s testimony that this homicide occurred in a moment of overwhelming fear of what might follow if he succeeded with his plan to finally leave, that his response was completely reactionary, as a result of a lifetime of abuse and the immediate result of provocation by his mother,” said Greenwood, who told the jury Dallas suffered the symptoms of PTSD as a battered child when he killed Tien.

“He perceived the threats against him as real.”

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Click to play video: 'Court hears conflicting testimony from psychiatrists in trial of Toronto man accused of murdering his mother'

Court hears conflicting testimony from psychiatrists in trial of Toronto man accused of murdering his mother

Crown attorney Jay Spare argued that Dallas Ly had the intent to kill his mother and the evidence supports he’s guilty of second-degree murder.

Taking the jury through a slide show of photos from the crime scene, including a hunting knife covered in blood with Tien’s DNA on it, Spare said Dallas went back to his room after his mother began yelling at him in Vietnamese and instead of calling 911, he got a knife and cornered his mother in the doorway of the condominium the mother and son shared and overtook her. Tien had defensive wounds on her wrists and had 27 stab wounds in all.

Spare said Dallas was the aggressor and was angry about years of child abuse.

He attacked his mother with a knife, nearly severing her neck as he stabbed at her dozens of times. He then retreated to his bedroom for three hours before decapitating her, cleaning up the scene, and attempting to dispose of his mother’s deceased body, which Dallas referred to on the stand as “it.”

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“If he did not intend to kill his mother, if it was accidental, why did he do nothing to save his mother? That was the result he wanted in that moment,” Spare said.

The Crown said Dallas’s post-offence conduct further demonstrated the fact he took deliberate steps to conceal the homicide. Spare said Ly put his mother in a shopping buggy before dumping her body. He then fled to the airport after buying a one-way ticket to Vietnam. When he was denied entry onto the plane, he took an Uber to the land border in Niagara and was again turned away.

Spare argued Dallas was neither credible nor reliable and changed his story between the time he spoke to Patel in November 2022 and when he testified in court last week. Spare told the jury they should believe the testimony of Dr. Alina Iosif, a forensic psychiatrist who did a peer review of Patel’s assessment of Dallas. She testified that Dallas’s PTSD only started after he killed his mother.

“She was abusive, but Tien Ly did not deserve to be brutally murdered with a knife,” said Spare, who urged the jury to convict Dallas of murder.

The judge will deliver his charge to the jury on Tuesday before deliberations begin.

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