Man Guilty in Deadly Van Attack 'Fueled by Misogyny'

Alek Minassian claimed he was not criminally responsible owing to autism diagnosis
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 3, 2021 11:38 AM CST
Man Gets Life for Van Attack 'Fueled by Misogyny'
In this May 10, 2018 file photo of a courtroom sketch, from left, defense lawyer Boris Bytensky, Justice Ruby Wong, Alek Minassian and Crown prosecutor Joe Callaghan are shown in court as Minassian appears by video in Toronto, Canada.   (Alexandra Newbould/The Canadian Press via AP, File)

A Canadian man who plowed a van into pedestrians in Toronto in 2018 has been found guilty of all 26 counts against him. Alek Minassian was convicted of 10 counts of murder and 16 counts of attempted murder Wednesday in Ontario Superior Court; he faces an automatic life sentence. Justice Anne Molloy called Minassian "John Doe" throughout the ruling, per the BBC. She said it was a move meant to deny the 28-year-old the fame and notoriety he "desperately wanted to achieve," per CTV News. Minassian confessed to plowing a rental van into various people on Toronto's busy Yonge Street on April 23, 2018. It was the city's worst mass killing, per the Toronto Star. Lawyers argued during a six-week trial that began in November that he was not criminally responsible owing to a diagnosis for Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Witnesses for the defense said Minassian had been obsessed with school shootings and US mass murderer Elliot Rodger. Like Rodger's 2014 attack in Isla Vista, Calif., Minassian's crimes were linked to a subculture of involuntary celibates or "incels." Molloy accepted the ASD diagnosis but said the attack was the "act of a reasoning mind." "Lack of empathy for the suffering of victims—even an incapacity to empathize, for whatever reason—does not constitute a defense" under the relevant law, she wrote. Mayor John Tory noted the attack was "fueled by misogyny and hatred of women." "I truly hope that for the victims and their families and friends, today's verdict will help," he said in a statement. A man whose 94-year-old aunt was killed in the attack said he was happy with the ruling, per Global News—"although it's hard to use the word happy when you lose a loved one like this." (Read more Toronto stories.)

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