TORONTO – Grief and anger filled a Toronto courtroom on Monday as those deeply affected by the city’s deadly van attack presented victim impact statements at a sentencing hearing for the man behind the rampage.
Eight women and two men died on April 23, 2018, when a 25-year-old man bent on infamy, angered by women who wouldn’t sleep with him and radicalized in the bowels of the internet deliberately drove a rented van down a busy sidewalk. Another woman died more than three years later from injuries suffered that day.
The sentencing hearing for Alek Minassian – found guilty last year of 10 counts of first-degree murder and 16 counts of attempted murder – could last multiple days as it will hear from several dozen people affected by the attack.
Robert Forsyth told the court about his aunt, Betty Forsyth, who he called a “walking library” of family information.
“Her presence and many untold stories are lost forever,” he said, his voice catching, as he stared at Minassian in the prisoner box.
The hearing is the first opportunity victims and families have had to face the killer in person after his judge-alone trial and verdict occurred over videoconference during the pandemic.
Three women who witnessed the attack also spoke about their troubles since that day.
Janet Jiang cried as she spoke about giving CPR to a woman who was hit and watching as she died. Jiang said she has lived with self doubt ever since.
“I replay that day thousands of times, questioning if I could have done things differently and if she would still be here today,” she said.
Justice Anne Molloy’s voice cracked several time as she thanked those who spoke.
“I admire your courage, I am so sorry this happened to you,” the judge who has presided over the case told Jiang.
Betty Forsyth, Ji Hun Kim, So He Chung, Geraldine Brady, Chul Min Kang, Anne Marie D’Amico, Munir Najjar, Dorothy Sewell, Andrea Bradden and Beutis Renuka Amarasingha and Amaresh Tesfamariam died as a result of attack.
First-degree murder carries an automatic life sentence without the ability to apply for parole for 25 years.