Blake Leibel guilty of scalping fiance: what the court heard
Filmmaker mutilated girlfriend in murder that ‘followed script’ of gory graphic novel he wrote
A Canadian filmmaker has been found guilty of torturing and murdering his girlfriend just weeks after she gave birth to their daughter.
Blake Leibel, the millionaire son of a real estate tycoon, mutilated Iana Kasian with a knife in a prolonged attack at their apartment in West Hollywood, California.
During what The Hollywood Reporter describes as “one of the grimmest murder trials in recent memory”, the Los Angeles County medical examiner told the court that Kasian, 30, had suffered a “very slow and painful death” and that all her blood was drained from her body.
The jury heard that her naked body had been found in bed in the couple’s blood-splattered master bedroom. She had suffered blunt force trauma to the head.
According to local news site SFGate, a recently released medical report indicated that pieces of her scalp was missing, leaving her skull exposed. The right side of her face had also been torn off, including her right ear. The report added that an injury to her jaw appeared to be human bite marks.
Kasian was “alive for the better part of the mutilation and mayhem”, prosecutor Tannaz Mokayef told the jury. Mokayef said the crime “followed a script” from a graphic novel that Leibel had written, titled Syndrome.
The book’s plot “follows a mad doctor’s quest to test his theory that he can isolate the root of evil in the brain and fix it, trying his experiment on a serial killer”, says HuffPost.
“The graphic novel opens outside a prison where the killer is about to be executed for 38 murders. It then flashes back to scenes of him hanging a couple by their ankles and slitting the man’s throat,” the site reports.
As well as writing, Leibel worked in a variety of other creative roles, including as a director and creative consultant in 2008 on an animated series based on the 1987 Mel Brooks film Spaceballs.
Authorities believe that Leibel was planning how to dispose of Kasian’s body when her worried mother requested that authorities go to their home on 26 May 2016.
Much of the prosecution’s case “rested on what police and forensic experts ultimately pieced together from the apartment”, says The Hollywood Reporter.
SFGate reports that Leibel is believed to have attacked Kasian because he was jealous of the attention she was giving their newborn daughter.
“The amount of cutting and tearing, the violence involved, that’s a lot of anger because [Kasian] no longer was making him the No. 1 most important thing in her life,” Deputy District Attorney Beth Silverman said.
Leibel’s defence lawyer tried to poke holes in the prosecution’s case, arguing that DNA from an “unknown second male” was found on three of the 11 rubbish bags in Leibel’s basement, but the jury was unconvinced.
Leibel is due to be sentenced next Tuesday and could face the death penalty.