BREAKING: Alek Minassian found criminally responsible for Toronto van attack

spaminator

Hall of Fame Member
Oct 26, 2009
27,387
780
113
BREAKING: Alek Minassian found criminally responsible for Toronto van attack
Author of the article:Michele Mandel
Publishing date:Mar 03, 2021 • 17 minutes ago • 3 minute read • comment bubble29 Comments
Alek Minassian is booked at 32 Division after the April 23, 2018 van attack in Toronto
Alek Minassian is booked at 32 Division after the April 23, 2018 van attack in Toronto PHOTO BY SCREENGRAB /Toronto Police
Article content
He is a convicted mass murderer.

Alek Minassian has been found guilty of 10 counts of first-degree murder and 16 of attempted murder in a highly awaited decision delivered over YouTube Wednesday morning.


Ontario Superior Court Justice Anne Molloy said Minassian, 28, had not established on a balance of probabilities that he should be found not criminally responsible of the horrific 2018 Yonge St. van attack due to his autism spectrum disorder.

In an unusual move, the judge refused to utter his name during her decision, choosing to call him “John Doe” because she wanted to deny him the infamy he sought. And in future, she said we should carefully consider withholding the names of perpetrators in similar cases.

In excerpts that she read from her 68-page decision, Molloy said autism spectrum disorder is eligible to be considered as a mental disorder for a possible defence under the not criminally responsible section. But Minassian’s ASD did not prevent him from making a rational choice that he knew was morally wrong.

Advertisement
STORY CONTINUES BELOW

This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.
Article content
Toronto Police at the scene of the arrest of the accused van driver Alek Minassian on Poyntz Ave., April 23, 2018.
Toronto Police at the scene of the arrest of the accused van driver Alek Minassian on Poyntz Ave., April 23, 2018.
“It is clear to me that Mr. Doe knew that his actions would be seen by a vast majority of society as morally wrong,” she said. “Mr. Doe thought about committing these crimes over a considerable period of time and made a considered decision to proceed.

“His attack on these 26 victims that day was an act of a reasoning mind not withstanding its horrific nature and notwithstanding he has no remorse for it and no empathy for his victims.”

WHAT MADE HIM KILL
The victims were Anne Marie D’Amico, 30, Dorothy Sewell, 80, Renuka Amarasingha, 45, Munir Najjar, 85, Chul Min (Eddie) Kang, 45, Mary Elizabeth (Betty) Forsyth, 94, Sohe Chung, 22, Andrea Bradden, 33, Geraldine Brady, 83, and Ji Hun Kim, 22.

Minassian had been fantasizing about mass murder for over a decade and believed this was his way of becoming infamous.


“In this case, Mr. Doe knew it was legally wrong to kill people and he also knew his plan to run down and kill people constituted first-degree murder and that if arrested, he would go to jail for the rest of his life,” she said.

“That is why his plan was death by cop, that being preferable to jail. Mr. Doe knew that the vast majority of people in society would find an act of mass murder to be morally wrong. However, he wanted to achieve fame and notoriety.”

Toronto Police Const. Ken Lam arrests Toronto van attack driver Alek Minassian on April 23, 2018.
Toronto Police Const. Ken Lam arrests Toronto van attack driver Alek Minassian on April 23, 2018. PHOTO BY SCREENGRAB
He saw himself as a failure with no hope for the future and didn’t care if he died as long as he died achieving fame.

He considered the impact it would have on his family but deliberately set those concerns aside because he didn’t want them to prevent him from achieving his goal.

“He was capable of understanding the impact it would have on his victims. He knew death would be irreversible. He knew their families would grieve,” she said.

MORE ON THIS TOPIC

Toronto Police are seen near a damaged van in Toronto after a rental van hit pedestrians along Yonge St. on April 23, 2018. (CP)
MANDEL: Not criminally responsible? Toronto van killer to learn verdict
Alek Minassian is booked at 32 Division after the April 23, 2018 van attack in Toronto
MANDEL: Will this be mass killer Alek Minassian's last Christmas behind bars?
Alek Minassian is accused of murdering 10 people and wounding 16 others in a van attack on Yonge St. in Toronto.
MANDEL: Blame Minassian's autism for 'horrific' mass killing, lawyer insists

At various times, he described his actions as “devastating, despicable, shocking, morally terrible, a horrible thing and irredeemable.”

He had a functioning rational brain and knew it was morally wrong. “He then made a choice. He chose to commit the crimes anyway,” she said.

READ THE VERDICT
Advertisement
STORY CONTINUES BELOW

This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.
Article content

mmandel@postmedia.com
 

spaminator

Hall of Fame Member
Oct 26, 2009
27,387
780
113
MANDEL: The mass murderer who shall not be named
Toronto van attack killer found criminally responsible

Author of the article:Michele Mandel
Publishing date:Mar 04, 2021 • 18 minutes ago • 3 minute read • comment bubble92 Comments
Alek Minassian is booked at 32 Division after the April 23, 2018 van attack in Toronto
Alek Minassian is booked at 32 Division after the April 23, 2018 van attack in Toronto PHOTO BY SCREENGRAB /Toronto Police
Article content
Know their names. The names that matter.

Anne Marie D’Amico, 30, Dorothy Sewell, 80, Renuka Amarasingha, 45, Munir Najjar, 85, Chul Min (Eddie) Kang, 45, Mary Elizabeth (Betty) Forsyth, 94, Sohe Chung, 22, Andrea Bradden, 33, Geraldine Brady, 83, and Ji Hun Kim, 22.


As for the mass murderer convicted for ending their lives, how tempting it is to never link his name with theirs again. To deprive him of the infamy he sought when he ran down pedestrians on that bright spring day three years ago in his grotesque quest for a high kill count atop a macabre leaderboard.

In a bold and unusual move, Superior Court Justice Anne Molloy refused to feed the notoriety he craved. In convicting him of 10 counts of first-degree murder and 16 of attempted murder, rejecting his defence of being not criminally responsible due to autism, she referred to him only as John Doe.

Toronto Police at the scene of the arrest of the accused van driver Alek Minassian on Poyntz Ave., April 23, 2018.
Toronto Police at the scene of the arrest of the accused van driver Alek Minassian on Poyntz Ave., April 23, 2018.
“It is my hope that his name would no longer be published by anyone else either,” she said in her ruling livestreamed over YouTube. “That is not an order I will make, it is merely a wish, perhaps a naïve one.”

Advertisement
STORY CONTINUES BELOW

This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.
Article content
Unfortunately, it is.

We must write his name, if reluctantly. Sparingly. Alek Minassian. Cold-blooded, convicted mass murderer.


Coward.

Too afraid to fail at his new job, too timid to face the consequences of his massacre, too gutless to even launch his attack without appropriating someone else’s ridiculous cause.

Despite claiming to have been radicalized by the misogynist incel movement, Molloy didn’t believe it was the driving force behind his deadly attack.

Instead, she believes he was simply looking for attention.

The 10 people killed in the April 23, 2018 Toronto van attack.
The 10 people killed in the April 23, 2018 Toronto van attack.
“He wanted to be seen. He wanted to be known, and talked about. He saw no way to accomplish that except through a spectacular act of violence,” she said.

So why did he do it? The short answer — “He did it to become famous.”

She rejected the rambling testimony of defence expert Dr. Alexander Westphal of Yale University, who insisted Minassian’s ASD left him incapable of understanding the moral wrongfulness of his actions. She found Westphal an unreliable witness who lacked a basic understanding of the NCR test under Canadian law and purposely sat on information that didn’t support his opinion.


“In this case, Mr. Doe knew it was legally wrong to kill people. He also knew that his plan to run down and kill people constituted first-degree murder and that, if arrested, he would go to jail for the rest of his life. That is why his plan was to ‘die by cop,’ death being preferable to jail.

“Mr. Doe knew that the vast majority of people in society would find an act of mass murder to be morally wrong. However, he desperately wanted to achieve fame and notoriety, believing even negative attention for his actions would be better than to live in obscurity.”

Toronto Police Const. Ken Lam arrests Toronto van attack driver Alek Minassian on April 23, 2018.
Toronto Police Const. Ken Lam arrests Toronto van attack driver Alek Minassian on April 23, 2018. PHOTO BY SCREENGRAB
He knew full well the impact it would have.

“He knew death would be irreversible. He knew their families would grieve,” Molloy said. “At various times during his assessments by various experts, he described his actions as being ‘devastating,’ ‘despicable,’ ‘shocking,’ ‘morally terrible,’ ‘horrible thing,’ and ‘irredeemable.’”

Despite his autism spectrum disorder, he knew this attack he’d long planned was morally wrong.

“He then made a choice. He chose to commit the crimes anyway, because it was what he really wanted to do.”

MORE ON THIS TOPIC

Toronto Police are seen near a damaged van in Toronto after a rental van hit pedestrians along Yonge St. on April 23, 2018. (CP)
MANDEL: Not criminally responsible? Toronto van killer to learn verdict
Alek Minassian is booked at 32 Division after the April 23, 2018 van attack in Toronto
MANDEL: Will this be mass killer Alek Minassian's last Christmas behind bars?
Alek Minassian is accused of murdering 10 people and wounding 16 others in a van attack on Yonge St. in Toronto.
MANDEL: Blame Minassian's autism for 'horrific' mass killing, lawyer insists

And so he revved his engine, mounted the curb and roared down the sidewalk, tossing bodies into the air, leaving blood and agony in his wake.

Defence lawyer Boris Bytensky had yet to speak with his client but said, “statistically the vast majority of people convicted of murder in this country do file appeals.”

In the meantime, he’s facing life in prison with no chance of parole for at least 25 years — though it could be much longer if Molloy imposes consecutive periods of parole ineligibility.

So when we must say his shameful name, we can add this: Alek Minassian — lifer.

READ THE VERDICT
Advertisement
STORY CONTINUES BELOW

This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.
Article content

mmandel@postmedia.com
 

spaminator

Hall of Fame Member
Oct 26, 2009
27,387
780
113
Autism legally recognized for first time as possible NCR defence
Author of the article:Michele Mandel
Publishing date:Mar 04, 2021 • 12 hours ago • 1 minute read • comment bubble9 Comments
Victims, as well as family and friends of victims of the 2018 deadly van attack gather outside the Toronto Courthouse in Toronto as crown attorney Joe Callaghan reads a statement to media following the verdict in the trial of Alek Minassian, on Wednesday, March 3, 2021.
Victims, as well as family and friends of victims of the 2018 deadly van attack gather outside the Toronto Courthouse in Toronto as crown attorney Joe Callaghan reads a statement to media following the verdict in the trial of Alek Minassian, on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. PHOTO BY COLE BURSTON /GETTY IMAGES
Article content
For the first time in Canada, a judge has accepted that autism qualifies as a “mental disorder” for an accused trying to argue they were not criminally responsible.

But Ontario Justice Anne Molloy found that while Alek Minassian’s Autism Spectrum Disorder satisfies the first step of the NCR test, his developmental disorder didn’t render him incapable of rationally making moral judgments.

Tiger King's caged Joe Exotic makes new bid for freedom
Trackerdslogo
“The question of ASD supporting a defence to criminal responsibility is a novel one in other jurisdictions, not just our own,” she wrote in her judgment.

ASD is a permanent condition impacting brain functioning and thought processes, she noted.

“In its severe manifestations, and particularly where there are comorbidities, ASD might cause a person to lack the capacity to appreciate the nature of an action or to know that it is wrong,” she said.

But accepting ASD for the legal definition of a mental disorder just opens the door. “Everything depends on the particular circumstances of the individual and how they are affected by their disability.”

Advertisement
STORY CONTINUES BELOW

This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.
Article content

To meet the requirements for an NCR defence under section 16 of the Criminal Code, the onus was on Minassian to show his mental disorder either left him incapable of appreciating the nature and quality of his act; or of knowing it was morally wrong in the eyes of society and choosing to do it anyway.

MORE ON THIS TOPIC

Alek Minassian is booked at 32 Division after the April 23, 2018 van attack in Toronto
Alek Minassian found criminally responsible for Toronto van attack
Toronto Police are seen near a damaged van in Toronto after a rental van hit pedestrians along Yonge St. on April 23, 2018. (CP)
MANDEL: Not criminally responsible? Toronto van killer to learn verdict
Ontario Autism Coalition
Ontario Autism Coalition 'relieved' Minassian autism defence failed

Molloy found Minassian’s ASD didn’t prevent him from fully understanding his actions were both legally and morally wrong.

“Mr. Doe thought about committing these crimes over a considerable period of time and made a considered decision to proceed. His attack on these 26 victims that day was an act of a reasoning mind.”

mmandel@postmedia.com
 

spaminator

Hall of Fame Member
Oct 26, 2009
27,387
780
113
WARMINGTON: Judge can send strong message with van killer sentence
Author of the article:Joe Warmington
Publishing date:Mar 04, 2021 • 22 hours ago • 3 minute read • comment bubble7 Comments
Cathy Riddell, family members and friends of the victims of a deadly 2018 van attack listen to Crown attorney Joe Callaghan after the verdict in the trial of Alek Minassian was delivered, outside the provincial Superior Court of Justice in Toronto March 3, 2021.
Cathy Riddell, family members and friends of the victims of a deadly 2018 van attack listen to Crown attorney Joe Callaghan after the verdict in the trial of Alek Minassian was delivered, outside the provincial Superior Court of Justice in Toronto March 3, 2021. PHOTO BY CHRIS HELGREN /REUTERS
Article content
Send him away for 650 years, Justice Anne Molloy.

She may not have said his name in reading out her verdict, but Molloy has the power and to lock up “John Doe” behind bars for 650 years without parole eligibility.


It’s perfectly within her authority to do.

The rules, as they stand in Canadian justice, could land Alek Minassian 650 years of prison time before he can apply for parole. He was convicted of 10counts of first degree murder and 16 counts of attempted murder for the April 23, 2018 Yonge St. van attack that destroyed many lives and wounded a city and country to levels never previously experienced.

Do the math and you get to the 650 years the judge can give him before parole eligibility. All she has to do is rule each sentence is served after the previous one is completed. Coming with each conviction of first-degree murder are automatic life sentences with no eligibility for parole for 25 years. It’s unlikely he would ever be released, but in a world always changing, there is one sure way to make sure.

Advertisement
STORY CONTINUES BELOW

This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.
Article content
Stack the convictions and make him serve each one consecutively.

MORE ON THIS TOPIC

Alek Minassian is booked at 32 Division after the April 23, 2018 van attack in Toronto
MANDEL: Toronto's mass murderer who shall not be named
Victims, as well as family and friends of victims of the 2018 deadly van attack gather outside the Toronto Courthouse in Toronto as crown attorney Joe Callaghan reads a statement to media following the verdict in the trial of Alek Minassian, on Wednesday, March 3, 2021.
Autism legally recognized for first time as possible NCR defence
Ontario Autism Coalition
Ontario Autism Coalition 'relieved' Minassian autism defence failed

This has been done before in Canada. Triple killer Dellen Millard is serving stacked life sentences with no parole eligibility for 25 years for the first-degree murder convictions of Tim Bosma, Wayne Millard and Laura Babcock. This is the current record. Whether she says his name or not, Molloy can make sure this killer owns the new record.

There is a currently a Charter of Rights challenge working its way to the Supreme Court of Canada on consecutive sentencing, but as it stands in the books now, a judge has every right to make a person serve each life sentence individually instead of concurrently, like was the case prior to the Conservative government making the change for multiple murder convictions in 2011.

The law was changed for cases just like this. This great judge knows the law better than anybody in Canada so it will be interesting to see what path of sentencing she decides to go down.

In the case of Alexandre Bissonnette, who murdered Mamadou Tanou Barry, Abdelkrim Hassane, Khaled Belkacemi, Aboubaker Thabti, Azzeddine Soufiane and Ibrahima Barry while wounding five others in a heinous attack in a Quebec City mosque in 2017, the original sentence of 40 years was later reversed by a senior Quebec court to 25 years.

Advertisement
STORY CONTINUES BELOW

This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.
Article content
In the case of Minassian, Molloy has every right to go for the maximum for this mass killer who wanted to kill even more than he did.


On the 10 murders, that would mean 250 years. The same applies to the 16 attempted murders which also carry a life sentence but can be lower year numbers in terms of applying for parole eligibility. But in a case like this when the intent was to kill as many as possible and being successful 10 times, it’s hard to imagine the sentence being any less severe because somebody survived the same evil acts that killed others.

A sentence of 650 years before parole eligibility would not be grandstanding. It would be appropriate. Now age 28, but 25 at the time, means Minassian would not be eligible for parole until he’s 675 years old.

No sentence will bring back Anne Marie D’Amico, 30, Dorothy Sewell, 80, Renuka Amarasingha, 45, Munir Najjar, 85, Chul Min (Eddie) Kang, 45, Mary Elizabeth (Betty) Forsyth, 94, Sohe Chung, 22, Andrea Bradden, 33, Geraldine Brady, 83, and Ji Hun Kim, 22. And it’s clear the maximum sentence would be on paper and symbolic, since no one would live that long.

But what it would do is show the families of the dead and wounded that the justice system gave this mass killer the maximum that our country allows. This opportunity was missed when it wasn’t applied to Bissonnette, but a strong message can be sent by applying it to Minassian.

If Molloy decides to apply the maximum, “John Doe” would not be eligible for parole until the year 2668.

jwarmington@postmedia.com
 

spaminator

Hall of Fame Member
Oct 26, 2009
27,387
780
113
Van attack trial, verdict gave glimpse into new reality of virtual court cases
Author of the article:Canadian Press
Canadian Press
Paola Loriggio
Publishing date:Mar 05, 2021 • 1 hour ago • 4 minute read • comment bubbleJoin the conversation
Crown attorney Joe Callaghan, clockwise from top left, Justice Anne Molloy, accused in the April 2018 Toronto van attack Alex Minsassian and Dr. Alexander Westphal are shown during a murder trial conducted via Zoom videoconference, in this courtroom sketch on Monday, Nov. 30, 2020.
Crown attorney Joe Callaghan, clockwise from top left, Justice Anne Molloy, accused in the April 2018 Toronto van attack Alex Minsassian and Dr. Alexander Westphal are shown during a murder trial conducted via Zoom videoconference, in this courtroom sketch on Monday, Nov. 30, 2020. PHOTO BY ALEXANDRA NEWBOULD /THE CANADIAN PRESS
Article content
TORONTO — Thousands of people tuned in earlier this week as the judge overseeing a high-profile trial into one of the deadliest attacks in Toronto delivered her guilty verdict from the basement of her home, with a fireplace and tightly shut blinds as a backdrop.

For some, the highly anticipated ruling in the murder trial of Alek Minassian provided a first glimpse of the criminal court process under the constraints of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has seen many proceedings move online and prompted some in the justice system to work from home.


Over months of hearings culminating in Wednesday’s verdict, the case — which captured public attention across Canada and beyond — shone a spotlight on the challenges and particularities of remote proceedings, from dress codes and home decor to the presence of pets.

One witness, a forensic psychiatrist, testified from a room where several guitars hung from the walls. Court staff as well as the judge, Ontario Superior Court Justice Anne Molloy, warned that their cats may make an appearance during hearings.

Advertisement
STORY CONTINUES BELOW

This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.
Article content
Meanwhile, lawyers dressed in business clothes rather than their usual robes throughout the trial — as did Molloy, though she donned her gown for the verdict.

“It may not look like a real courtroom, it may not feel like a real courtroom sometimes, it may seem to be more relaxed, but I can assure that rules of evidence, the rules of law, are not relaxed,” the judge said on the trial’s opening day in November.


Ontario’s courts issued guidance to those in the justice system when the health crisis began last year, as did several legal organizations.

The Ontario Superior Court of Justice, for example, suspended the requirement to wear a gown, but noted participants, including judges, would be “expected to dress in appropriate business attire.” It also advised that participants find an appropriate space to log on.

“We understand that you may not have complete privacy and silence in your current environment, which may be a shared living space, but please do your best to participate from a private, quiet space,” the court wrote.

A task force convened early in the pandemic also laid out best practices for remote proceedings, which included a recommendation that participants consider using an “appropriately dignified artificial digital background” if necessary.

Kathryn Manning, a civil litigator and co-chair of the E-Hearings Task Force, said the group had many discussions on how to maintain a serious tone in the more relaxed setting of the home.

Advertisement
STORY CONTINUES BELOW

This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.
Article content
Seeing lawyers and judges in their homes, dressed in less formal clothing, humanizes them and the court process, “and of course all the people in the justice system are people,” she said.

“But on the other hand, it’s still a formal court proceeding and I think you need to respect that and make sure you can replicate it as much as possible.”

The task force is working on updating its best practices now that the justice community has more experience with remote hearings, and there will be some additions related to those kinds of issues, Manning said.

Trevor Farrow, a professor at York University’s Osgoode Hall law school, said the loosening of the rules regarding attire and location for remote hearings has made the court more accessible in some ways, beyond making it easier for people to participate and observe.

The practice of wearing gowns was meant to put everyone on a level-playing field as well as instill a certain sense of formality, but it can also intimidate and alienate people at times, he said.

“So the idea of relaxing the rules around dress codes, in some ways, makes court more accessible to more people in ways that are less intimidating and alienating,” he said.

What’s more, judges, who maintain a significant amount of discretion in how their cases operate, have also had to acknowledge the realities of people’s lives, be it the presence of young children or the sudden ringing of a doorbell, Farrow said.


“Some judges are still saying they don’t want to hear any dogs barking, others are saying, ‘Don’t worry, feel free.’ And so, you know, judges still run their own courtroom and there’s a wide range of practices … within the Zoom community,” he said.

Advertisement
STORY CONTINUES BELOW

This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.
Article content
At the same time, being able to see into someone’s home as they’re addressing the court can be distracting and could potentially draw away from their words, he said.

“I do know that lots of lawyers and judges are using the sort of fake backgrounds, or blank backgrounds… because ideally justice is about the merits of a case not, you know, how interesting the background is,” Farrow said.

“Not only from an accessibility perspective, not only from a people taking it seriously perspective, but also as a matter of persuasion, you want the judge to listening to you, not thinking about the guitar behind your head.”
 

spaminator

Hall of Fame Member
Oct 26, 2009
27,387
780
113
Sentencing hearing in Toronto van attack delayed
Author of the article:Canadian Press
Canadian Press
Publishing date:Mar 18, 2021 • 1 day ago • 1 minute read • comment bubbleJoin the conversation
Mourners pay their respects at the memorial for the Yonge St. van attack victims at Mel Lastman Square in Toronto on April 26, 2018.
Mourners pay their respects at the memorial for the Yonge St. van attack victims at Mel Lastman Square in Toronto on April 26, 2018. PHOTO BY DAVE ABEL /Toronto Sun
Article content
The judge presiding over the Toronto van attack case says the court can’t currently move forward on a sentencing hearing for the man found guilty in the rampage.

Justice Anne Molloy says Alek Minassian’s case will be put over to May 31, at which point a sentencing hearing date may be set.


She did not provide a reason for the delay.

Minassian was found guilty of 10 counts of first-degree murder and 16 counts of attempted murder earlier this month.

He pleaded not guilty to the charges and argued he was not criminally responsible for his actions on April 23, 2018 due to autism spectrum disorder.


Molloy did not accept his argument and found him guilty on all counts.

Minassian’s lawyer has previously said the court may have to await a ruling regarding consecutive sentencing from the Supreme Court before proceeding with his client’s case.