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