A man who killed 10 people and wounded 16 will spend life in prison despite claims that he didn’t know his actions were morally wrong because he has autism.
(CN) — A judge found a man who admitted to killing 10 Toronto pedestrians with his van after announcing the start to “The Incel Rebellion” guilty of first-degree murder, brushing aside arguments the man didn’t realize the gravity of his actions because he has autism spectrum disorder.
On one of the first sunny spring days in 2018, Alek Minassian rented a van and drove to Yonge Street, Toronto’s main north/south road and one that is commonly teeming with pedestrians. There, he pulled over to post a message to Facebook: “Private (Recruit) [Doe] Infantry 00010, wishing to speak to Sgt 4chan please. C23249161. The Incel Rebellion has already begun! We will overthrow all the Chads and Stacys! All hail the Supreme Gentleman Elliot Rodger!”
“Incel” is short for “involuntary celibate,” a self-claimed category for men who complain that women won’t have sex with them.
Then Minassian drove onto the sidewalk and sped through crowds, weaving between the street and the sidewalk for over a mile and a half. He killed 10 people and injured 16 more on April 23, 2018, stopping only when his windshield was covered in the coffee one of the people he hit had been holding.
Police pulled him over and arrested him without incident, despite his professed desire to die by suicide.
On Thursday, Superior Court Justice Anne Molloy found Alek Minassian guilty of 10 counts of first-degree murder and 16 counts of attempted murder.
Justice Molloy referred to the killer as John Doe. She omitted his name from her 68-page verdict, noting that he “committed a horrific crime, one of the most devastating tragedies this city has ever endured, for the purpose of achieving fame.”
Instead, Molloy began her ruling by naming the dead: Ji Hun Kim, 22, So He Chung, 22, Geraldine Brady, 83, Chul Min Kang, 45, Mary Elizabeth Forsyth, 94, Munir Abdo Habib Najjar, 85, Anne Marie D’Amico, 30, Beutis Renuka Amarasingha, 45, Dorothy Sewell, 80 and Andrea Bradden, 33.
And the injured: So Ra, 23, suffered broken jaw and fractured ribs. Hyeon Jeong Moon, 25, with bleeding to the brain and broken pelvis. Jun Seok Park, 33, suffered bleeding to the brain and fractured lumbar vertebrae. Mavis Justino, 42, had a dislocated shoulder, fractured ribs and needed stitches to the back of her head and her right arm. Robert Anderson, 59 with bleeding in his skull, broken ribs, a collapsed lung and a bleeding kidney.
Amir Kiumarsi, 52, suffered skull and spinal fractures, plus abdominal bleeding. Aleksandra Kozhevinikova, 90, needed hip surgery. Catherine Riddell, 67, suffered brain trauma, broken ribs, broken scapula and a broken pelvis. Dina Risin, 80, had a head injury. Bob Tian, 28, was left with a traumatic brain injury, facial and spinal fractures and a broken arm. Xiaolong An, 21, injured his arm, elbows and knee.
Morgan Anthony McDougall, 26 was knocked unconscious and needed stitches and staples in his face, hands, arms and head. Samantha Peart, 23, suffered a fractured pelvis, clavicle, and tailbone. Sammantha Samson, had an injured knee, elbow and foot. Beverly Smith, 81, had to have both legs amputated above the knee. Amaresh Tesfamariam, suffered major injuries including a cervical fracture.
The crimes were captured on video by numerous bystanders. At trial, the killer’s attorneys said he didn’t know what he was doing because he was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.
“It was clear Mr. Doe killed and injured these people and that he intended to do that,” Molloy wrote. “The central issue was not the acts he had committed, but his state of mind at the time.”
Molloy wrote that she, along with every expert who assessed the killer, accepted that he is indeed on the autism spectrum. But she noted that, although some people with such a diagnosis have intellectual impairments, the killer does not.
During trial, experts agreed that the killer was not psychotic during the attack. Nor was he delusional.
“Rather, he was fully aware of what he was doing when driving the car down the sidewalk, and that this would result in the deaths of many people,” Molloy wrote. “He also understood that deliberately killing people in this manner would be murder and that this is a criminal offence.”
Though experts agreed he knew his actions were legally wrong, they were divided on the question of whether he knew they were morally wrong. That was the main question Molloy focused on.
“It is clear to me that Mr. Doe knew that his actions would be seen by the vast majority of society as morally wrong,” Molloy wrote. “The more difficult issue is whether, in light of his social and reasoning deficits, Mr. Doe was incapable of bringing a rational mind to bear on the issue and to make a rational choice as to whether to proceed with these killings.”
Ultimately, she found that he was aware of the moral problems with his actions.
“Mr. Doe thought about committing these crimes over a considerable period of time and made a considered decision to proceed,” Molloy wrote. “His attack on these 26 victims that day was an act of a reasoning mind, notwithstanding its horrific nature, and notwithstanding that he has no remorse for it and no empathy for his victims.”
Minassian will spend the rest of his life in prison, due to Canada’s laws mandating life sentences both high treason and first-degree murder. Justice Molloy could also impose the maximum of 250 years in prison — 25 years for each murder.