North York van attack suspect Alek Minassian will be tried by judge alone in Toronto
Kayla Goodfield, CTV News Toronto
Published Wednesday, June 19, 2019 12:39PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, June 19, 2019 7:52PM EDT
The man accused of killing 10 people and injuring 16 others after plowing into them while driving a rental van on a busy sidewalk in North York last year will be tried by a judge alone in Toronto.
Alek Minassian, 26, appeared in a Toronto courtroom on Wednesday where the decision was made that the accused will be tried without a jury.
"There’s not really a lot I can say other than to confirm that both the Crown and Minassian have consented to a trial without a jury, with the Judge sitting alone – that is unusual in homicide cases and requires the consent of the prosecution to do that,” the accused’s lawyer, Boris Bytensky, said. “In this particular case everybody felt that the best way to proceed would be without a jury and that decision was formally made today.”
Minassian, of Richmond Hill, has been charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder and 16 counts of attempted murder in the Yonge Street attack that took place on April 23, 2018.
Late last year, Ontario’s deputy attorney general granted the prosecution’s request to skip a preliminary hearing and proceed directly to trial.
Since no jury will be present at the trial, Bytensky said it is not necessary to proceed outside the city of Toronto.
“If we have a trial with no jury then there is no reason to even consider changing the venue to another location, those would be considerations that would be in play if a jury was trying this case but they are no longer in play so the case will be proceeding here.”
Bytensky added that his client is “looking forward to having his trial” and is “confident it will be a fair one.”
“Justice Anne Molloy is a very senior judge, very well respected and certainly both the Crown and I have the utmost confidence that she will give Minassian a fair trial,” he said. “Regardless of the final outcome here, the only expectation that anyone can have of our justice system is that the trials are fair and I have every confidence that this one will be.”
The trial is scheduled to begin in February 2020.