A graphic novelist and filmmaker from a prominent Canadian family was convicted Wednesday of torturing, scalping and killing his live-in girlfriend, who had given birth to their child just three weeks before.
Blake Leibel, 37, was found guilty by a Los Angeles jury of first degree murder, torture, aggravated mayhem and other crimes for the May 2016 killing Iana Kasian, the Associated Press reports.
Leibel beat her, cut her with a knife and a razor blade, scalped her and drained the blood from her body.
Kasian was “alive for the better part of the mutilation and mayhem,” Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Tannaz Mokayef told jurors, according to the Associated Press.
The murder, she said, “followed a script” of “Syndrome,” Leibel's 2010 graphic novel in which a scientist searches for a cure for evil by experimenting on a serial killer. In the book, there's a scene where the serial killer murders a man by slicing his throat and hanging him by his ankles so he bleeds out.
Deputy District Attorney Beth Silverman said she thinks Leibel killed Kasian because he was no longer the priority in her life, now that they had a child together.
“The amount of cutting and tearing, the violence involved, that’s a lot of anger because she no longer was making him the number one most important thing in her life,” Silverman said.
The conviction finalized the fall of a man born into immense privilege and wealth.
Leibel’s father, Lorne, competed for Canada on their 1976 Olympic sailing team before becoming a Toronto developer once described as Canada’s largest home builder, while Leibel’s mother, Eleanor, was an heiress to a plastics-manufacturing fortune, according to the National Post, a Canadian newspaper.
Leibel moved to California in 2004, where he lived off an $18,000-a-month trust-fund allowance for seven years before inheriting the majority of his mother’s estate, according to the Los Angeles Times. He worked as a comic book creator, animation director and screenwriter. His credits include an animated series of “Spaceballs,” according to IMDB.
The Hollywood Reporter called Leibel’s trial “one of the grimmest murder trials in recent memory.”
“This case reads like a movie script,” Deputy District Attorney Mokayef told jurors in' opening statement. “It’s just more like a horror movie. It’s a tale of a gruesome and sadistic crime, a tale of a planned and calculated murder, a tortured murder."
It’s unclear when Leibel met Kasian, but she gave birth to their daughter in early May 2016, Mokayef told jurors. Leibel was arrested on May 20 for sexually assaulting another woman, and released on bail.
That’s when Kasian moved back in with her mother, who lived in the area. She stayed there until May 23, when she went back to Leibel’s apartment to try working things out. When her mother didn’t hear from her, she alerted police. After several attempts to get Leibel to open the door, they entered the home May 26.
Kasian’s corpse was naked on the bed in the master bedroom, washed clean and wrapped in a Mickey Mouse blanket they had wrapped their new-born baby in, according to CBS Los Angeles. Kasian was missing her scalp, the right side of her face and an ear, which were found in garbage bags in a dumpster at the bottom of a trash chute in the basement.
Leibel was laying on the bed beside Kasian’s corpse when police found him, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
Blood was everywhere, including the kitchen sink drain pipe. Pieces of Kasian’s flesh were found in the bed, behind the mattress and on the floor. Police also found the knife and a bloody razor blade that prosecutors said may have been used during the scalping. A bed sheet had a bloody handprint that matched Leibel’s.
The evidence against Leibel also included text messages that showed Liebel ordered food to the apartment through the time Kasian lied disfigured and dying, instructing the delivery service not to knock on the door, but leave the food outside.
Jurors delivered a guilty verdict in 90 minutes. Leibel faces life imprisonment without the possibility of parole when he is sentenced June 26.
[Photo: Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department; Facebook]