The curious case of Mark Marek and his gory website features a porn star, necrophilia, and an international manhunt, and it came to an end today with a guilty plea.
Marek, owner of the Edmonton-based site BestGore.com pleaded guilty today to charges of "corrupting morals" for posting a video of the Luke Magnotta murder.
"I take full responsibility for any harm that occurred, I admit it is obscene," Marek said in court on Monday, confessing that, to the best of his memory, he personally published the grizzly video.
"It has, death, it has horror, it has cruelty, it violence, it has dismemberment, and it has sex."
"It has, death, it has horror, it has cruelty, it violence, it has dismemberment, and it has sex," Justice Sterling Sanderman said of the video that Marek hosted.
"This isn't staged. This isn't a person following a script." Sanderman continued at the sentencing hearing on Monday. "This is a person who committed a heinous act."
The judge sentenced Marek to house arrest and parole, but no jail time.
Outside of the courtroom Marek stood, with a piece of duct tape over his mouth, holding a sign that read: "Silenced by censorship in Canada" on one side and: "Guilty of Canadian thought-crimes" on the other.
He remained silent as reporters barraged him with questions.
Magnotta was found guilty of first-degree murder, amongst other crimes, over the killing of Chinese exchange student Jun Lin. Magnotta posted a video of the crime online, stylized with a video editor and set to the sound of New Order's "True Faith." Sites like Marek's continued to host the video, long after it had been pulled from other websites.
"Mark intends to plead guilty. While normally the guilty plea means admission of guilt, this is only true if prosecution is criminal, not political," said Vasily Kirov, a Best Gore editor, in a statement to VICE News sent the night before Marek's day in court.
"Since Mark's prosecution is political, his admission of guilt is really admission that his human right will not be respected anyway, and he's not gonna get a fair trial no matter what he does, so there is no point in going forward with it," Kirov said.
The statement goes on to cite Marek's treatment in the media and the fact that he cannot afford a defense attorney as playing into his reasoning.
"It's not surprising that dissidents in Canada are treated the same way dissidents were treated in the Stalin's Soviet Union."
"It's not surprising that dissidents in Canada are treated the same way dissidents were treated in the Stalin's Soviet Union," the statement continues.
This whole thing has been strange from the offset.
Best Gore, started by Marek in 2008, has become one of the biggest shock websites of all time.
The site, an archive of violent and graphic material, hosts the latest ISIS videos, a graphic video of a motorcycle crash in Brazil, and all the extreme fetish porn you would ever need.
On May 25, 2012, a video entitled 1 Lunatic 1 Ice Pick was uploaded to the site. The video is set in a dimly-lit room, featuring a stained mattress. On the bed, a figure repeatedly stabs a body with an ice pick and a kitchen knife. The video goes on to show the figure dismembering and penetrating the body.
Viewers of Best Gore videos, including an attorney in Montana, reported the video to the police.
According to a statement of facts filed in Marek's trial, the first comment on the video — seemingly underlining the fact that many believed the video was fake — was "what's with the shitty music?"
In the following days, body parts were mailed to the headquarters of Prime Minister of Canada and to two elementary schools. The hands and feet that were shipped across the country were matched to Jun. The rest of his body was discovered outside of Magnotta's west-end Montreal apartment.
After a manhunt, Magnotta was apprehended in Berlin and extradited to Canada. In 2014, after a very public trial, the former pornstar and pin-up model was found guilty of first-degree murder, committing an indignity to a body, criminally harassing Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and other charges.
He was sentenced to life in Prison.
Marek himself, after what police called a "complex" investigation, was charged with corrupting morals, under the rarely used Obscenity Act, for allowing the video to be posted. He was arrested and released on bail with several bail conditions, one of which banned him from using the internet.
"I am being persecuted for political reasons," Marek told CTV in 2013. "That's without a doubt, I have a mountain of evidence to prove it, and more evidence is coming."
Best Gore states that it was founded with the belief of "the right of the public to be informed," and has since made Marek out to be a political prisoner. There are several lengthy blog posts published by fellow editors of Best Gore, including Kirov. Politicalprisoner.ca was registered to contest the "injustices" visited upon Marek at the hands of the Canadian government.
"Mark Marek was silenced, but his legacy lives on," the site reads. "He believed in the right of the public to be informed and did not hesitate to sacrifice his life and well-being for this right."
Marek has gone so far to make out what he did as a service to the public.
"I saw a video that showed, potentially, a horrific crime, and I had two options: either ignore and risk that another person suffers the same fate, or do something about it and see if we can get that person off the street."
"I saw a video that showed, potentially, a horrific crime, and I had two options: either ignore and risk that another person suffers the same fate, or do something about it and see if we can get that person off the street," he said to CTV.
Marek said, in one interview that the Obscenity Act, under which he was charged, "is too broadly defined." The sections of the Criminal Code that Marek plead guilty to date back to the 1940s, when the deaths of two boys were blamed on "crime comics."
Since its adoption, the law has been rarely used.
The most recent high-profile utilization was in 2012 Montreal effects artist, Remy Couture, was charged under the same law for videos he used to highlight his work. He was found not guilty.
Marek often felt that the system wasn't giving him a fair shake. In advance of Monday's hearing, he fired his court-appointed defence attorney and defended himself. He initially planned on fighting the case, but changed his plea earlier today.
In Justice Sandermans' ruling, he said he was impressed by the way Marek handled the trial. He stated that Marek presented himself as a mature person who understood and accepted his wrong-doing, but that doesn't change the fact that wrongdoing was done and that the crime fit the definition of the obscenity law.
Sanderman accepted the proposed terms of sentencing put forward by Marek and the prosecution. He will serve a six-month conditional sentence, along with three months of house arrest and thirty hours of community service. Sanderman added that if Marek fails to follow the sentence retribution by the crown will be swift.
"If you breach any fundamental condition of the sentence, I will drag you back into court and you will go to jail."
Follow Mack Lamoureux on Twitter: @MackLamoureux