Webcam death suspect appears in court

AP News
Posted: Apr 26, 2011 2:34 PM
Webcam death suspect appears in court

A man charged with killing a Chinese university student whose struggle with an assailant was witnessed through a webcam was remanded in custody following a short hearing Tuesday in which he appeared via video from jail.

Brian Dickson, 29, was clad in an orange prison suit and looked straight into the camera. He gave his name when asked for it and nothing else. Dickson is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Qian Liu, a 23-year-old student at York University in Toronto.

A justice of the peace has imposed a publication ban on nearly all other details of Dickson's pretrial hearings.

Liu was found dead in her apartment April 15, just a few hours after her boyfriend in China watched via webcam as she tried to fend off an attacker who appeared at her door.

An autopsy has failed to reveal how Liu died and police say it may be weeks before the results of toxicology tests are known. Police have refused to release any details about the crime or its possible motive.

Dickson's next hearing was scheduled May 24.

Steven Krys, Dickson's lawyer, said it's still very early in the proceedings and said the prosecution is still putting together the facts and evidence.

Asked about police charging his client without announcing a cause of death, Krys said: "It is unusual. ... It's certainly an issue that I'm going to be very aware of and live to once we get the disclosure."

The prosecutor was not immediately available for comment.

Dickson has not yet entered a plea, but Krys reiterated Tuesday that he will be plead not guilty.

"He steadfastly maintains his innocence," Krys said.

Police have said Dickson was known to police but would not elaborate.

Dickson lived in an apartment in the same house as Liu, a police source said on condition of anonymity because the source wasn't authorized to speak publicly.

Liu's parents arrived from China last week and attended court on Tuesday before meeting with prosecutors. They declined to comment as they left.