So how will Mi­nas­sian’s lawyers ar­gue he is not crim­i­nally re­spon­si­ble for van at­tack?

Edmonton Sun - - NEWS - Michele MANDEL

Ha­tred of women is not a men­tal ill­ness. Nor is be­ing on the autism spec­trum.

Yet, lawyers for van at­tacker Alek Mi­nas­sian are ex­pected to en­ter a plea of not crim­i­nally re­spon­si­ble due to a men­tal dis­or­der (NCR) when his judge-alone trial on 10 counts of first-de­gree mur­der be­gins in Fe­bru­ary.

If the judge agrees, the mass mur­derer would be head­ing to a psy­chi­atric hospi­tal for a few years, if that long, un­til the On­tario Re­view Board deems he no longer poses a dan­ger to the rest of us.

How out­ra­geous that would be.

Un­der the Crim­i­nal Code, Mi­nas­sian, 26, could be found

NCR if he was suf­fer­ing from a se­ri­ous men­tal dis­or­der that ei­ther made it im­pos­si­ble for him to un­der­stand the na­ture and qual­ity of what he did or to un­der­stand it was wrong. But how can any­one view­ing Mi­nas­sian’s damn­ing po­lice con­fes­sion come away be­liev­ing he didn’t ap­pre­ci­ate what he was do­ing that day or wasn’t aware that run­ning down pedes­tri­ans was hor­rif­i­cally wrong?

Un­less there is some­thing we don’t know, this sure doesn’t ap­pear to be some kind of psy­chotic break. The killer had spent the last four years fan­ta­siz­ing about launch­ing his own at­tack that would turn him into a cult hero for his on­line women-hat­ing in­cel (in­vol­un­tary celi­bate) cave dwellers. He stu­diously booked his Ry­der van al­most a month be­fore he got be­hind the wheel, even re­search­ing which rental com­pany had the best cus­tomer ser­vice.

And Mi­nas­sian clearly knew he was break­ing both moral and le­gal law: He kept his plans from his par­ents, an­tic­i­pated he’d be killed by po­lice and on the day be­fore the mas­sacre, he sur­rep­ti­tiously dis­closed his plot to his fel­low in­cels on 4Chan: “I was us­ing a code lan­guage to avoid de­tec­tion by the au­thor­i­ties.”

Un­like other NCR killers, he didn’t hear voices, hal­lu­ci­nate or de­scribe any other kind of psy­chotic symp­toms that would sug­gest he was suf­fer­ing a se­vere men­tal break­down at the time.

In July 2018, Mi­nas­sian’s le­gal team won an or­der to have him trans­ferred from Toronto South De­ten­tion Cen­tre to the “dou­ble locked assess­ment unit” at St. Joseph’s Health­care in Hamil­ton for a foren­sic psy­chi­atric eval­u­a­tion by Dr. John Brad­ford, the renowned ex­pert who has an­a­lyzed some of Canada’s most no­to­ri­ous killers, in­clud­ing Paul Bernardo, Rus­sell Wil­liams and Robert Pick­ton. His cur­rent lawyer, Boris Byten­sky, has sig­nalled to the court that NCR is on the table.

“His state of mind at the rel­e­vant time and in the days, weeks and months lead­ing up to April 23, 2018, are ex­pected to be the central is­sues at trial,” he wrote in a pre-trial mo­tion.

Men­tal ill­ness is an easy scape­goat.

It’s also one many were quick to as­sume when they heard about Mi­nas­sian and his in­cel re­bel­lion.

“While lone-wolf at­tack­ers who in­voke anti-fem­i­nist ideas — like Mi­nas­sian — are of­ten framed as men­tally ill lon­ers, this at­tack

It’s not a men­tal ill­ness. It’s gen­der-based. It’s cer­tain in­di­vid­u­als hate women. It’s star­ing us in the face and we refuse to see it.” dr. tara richards, crim­i­nol­ogy pro­fes­sor at the Univer­sity of ne­braska omaha

was ter­ror­ist in na­ture and should be con­sid­ered as such,” ar­gue au­thors Shan­non Zim­mer­man, Luisa Ryan and David Durie­smith in Rec­og­niz­ing the Vi­o­lent Ex­trem­ist Ide­ol­ogy of ‘In­cels.’

“Me­dia re­port­ing af­ter the Toronto at­tack quickly em­pha­sized Mi­nas­sian’s strug­gles with men­tal health and cited claims from friends that he ‘wasn’t a ter­ror­ist.’ This treat­ment fails to rec­og­nize the cor­ro­sive po­lit­i­cal ide­ol­ogy that un­der­pinned Mi­nas­sian’s at­tack and his de­sire to ter­ror­ize the pub­lic.”

We’re more com­fort­able as­sum­ing men­tal ill­ness was at play rather than ad­mit­ting vi­o­lence against women is a real prob­lem, says Dr. Tara Richards, a crim­i­nol­ogy pro­fes­sor at the Univer­sity of Ne­braska Omaha,

“It’s not a men­tal ill­ness. It’s gen­der-based. It’s cer­tain in­di­vid­u­als hate women. It’s star­ing us in the face and we refuse to see it,” she said. “It’s eas­ier to blame men­tal ill­ness be­cause it’s then some­body else’s prob­lem, right? We can com­part­men­tal­ize it and then say, ‘Oh well, these peo­ple were men­tally ill’ in­stead of tak­ing a step back and say­ing this is a broader is­sue.”

Still, Richards can’t blame a good de­fence lawyer from try­ing to ar­gue NCR.

“It’s a very smart way to shape the story, es­pe­cially given a re­ally damn­ing con­fes­sion,” she said. “Be­cause al­ter­na­tively, this story is a per­son who, by his own con­fes­sion hated women, bought into gen­der stereo­types and com­mit­ted these crimes with a very spe­cific mo­ti­va­tion which he de­tails for you.”

Wil­liams Sex of­fender

bernardo Mur­derer

pick­ton Se­rial killer

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