• Cory Morrison

Alek Minassian trial: Proof he is criminally responsible

Updated: Jun 13


Toronto waterfront
(Photo credit: Scott Webb on Unsplash)

Alek Minassian, who has autism, has pleaded not criminally responsible for killing 10 people and injuring 16 others with a rented van in April 2018. However, there has been strong evidence that Minassian is criminally responsible. HFA Today looks at live tweets from the following reporters:

  • Alyshah Sanmati Hasham, a Toronto Star court reporter

  • Codi Wilson, a web journalist at CP24 News and

  • Kayla Goodfield, a digital journalist at CTV Toronto, CTV News and CP24 News

The tweets are ordered from earliest to latest.

As mentioned in last month’s editorial, Minassian planned the attack weeks in advance. If he wasn’t criminally responsible due to a mental disorder, he wouldn’t have planned the attack. It’s not like he suddenly lost his mind and didn’t realize that killing people is wrong.

Similarly, Minassian’s mind functioned well enough to write a Facebook post regarding his plan.

Minassian’s father provided evidence that he knows murder is wrong.

If Minassian’s mind functions to the point that he is aware of what the outcome will likely be in this trial, he is criminally responsible.

One may argue that Minassian may not necessarily remember a school assignment from that far back, but if a person learns that murder is wrong, those thoughts would likely stay.

Minassian told Dr. Rebecca Chauhan, a forensic psychiatrist at St. Joseph’s Healthcare, in September 2018 that he researched killing sprees before the attack. If Minassian wasn’t aware of how immoral his actions were, he wouldn’t have understood the famous mass murderer concept.

Minassian even had a plan on what types of people he wanted to kill. He was able to rationally organize the rampage.

This tweet says it all. Minassian is criminally responsible.

It wasn’t only weeks in advance Minassian thought about mass murder, it was also near the end of high school. A lot of thought and planning went into the attack.

Dr. John Bradford, a staff psychiatrist at St. Joseph’s Healthcare and a McMaster University professor, confirmed that Minassian is not psychotic.

This tweet suggests that Minassian knew he would be famous in a bad way by committing mass murder.

Dr. Alexander Westphal, a forensic psychiatrist who specializes in autism, was the defence witness for the trial by this point. Minassian decided to go for it as soon as he saw pedestrians waiting to cross the street. He knew that randomly driving on a sidewalk with little people around wouldn’t make as much sense to him.

Minassian was aware of what victims were doing before he struck them.

Minassian knew it was wrong the second he hit a person. He wouldn’t question his action for even a millisecond, otherwise.

Minassian had a clear plan on how to make him a more famous mass killer.

Minassian had clear motives for the killing spree.

The fact that Minassian would even think about carrying out the attack again if released, undoubtedly shows he is criminally responsible and should be locked up for life. He even admits to wanting a higher kill count.

The point is, Minassian still knows that murder is wrong.

Hopefully, Minassian will go to prison and his time there will also be irreversible.

As Minassian knew murder is wrong, he could have easily backed out of his plan.

Even if he didn’t understand broader implications, Minassian knew and still knows murder is wrong.

Minassian understands that being disappointed with a murder is much more extreme than being disappointed with a geology test.

According to Dr. Percy Wright, a forensic psychologist at CAMH, Minassian said killing 100 people would have been ideal. Even after over a year, he understood what he did and didn’t feel remorseful.

Dr. Wright acknowledges that autism doesn’t prevent one to know right from wrong.

Dr. Wright says that autism doesn’t define who a person is, nor does it imply the reason for the attack.

According to Scott Woodside, a forensic psychiatrist at CAMH, Minassian said he wanted media attention from his immoral actions.

There is more proof that Minassian understood how his family, survivors and victims would feel.

A not criminally responsible person wouldn’t be able to do those things.

Minassian is not a psychopath, he is a cold-blooded murderer.


Autism or not, Minassian is indeed criminally responsible for the Toronto Van Attack and should be locked in prison. Autism or any other mental disorder did not cause his actions, his own choices did.

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