TORONTO – A man accused in a deadly van attack in north Toronto won’t stand trial until next year at the earliest, his lawyer said Friday after the case was put over until November.
Alek Minassian, who is charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder and 16 counts of attempted murder, was not in court for a brief hearing on his case and was represented by his lawyer Boris Bytensky.
Eight women and two men died after a rental van mounted a sidewalk along a busy street in north Toronto and ran down pedestrians in its path on April 23.
Bytensky said lawyers are still in the process of combing through witness statements, photos and videos that have been turned over by investigators.
“It’s certainly not a usual case,” Bytensky told reporters outside court. “This is probably the largest amount of disclosure I’ve received on a case and maybe the largest amount of disclosure that’s been provided in a case that my office has been involved in.”
Bytensky added that each officer involved in the massive police response to the incident had provided written statements in the case.
The matter is set to return to court on Nov. 1, though that date could change if the Attorney General approves a request made by the Crown to move the case to a higher court without a preliminary inquiry, Bytensky said, adding that it’s unlikely the case would proceed to trial any time soon.
“Everybody still needs to be able to get prepared,” he said. “That really doesn’t change whether we’re going straight to Superior Court or whether we’re staying with the Ontario Court of Justice for a longer period.”
Bytensky declined to comment on his client’s mental or physical health, saying people should instead focus on the victims of the incident.
Those who died in the April attack on a northern stretch of Toronto’s bustling Yonge Street ranged in age from 22 to 94, and included a student from South Korea and a man from Jordan.
An impromptu memorial soon sprung up at the site of the attack, with mourners leaving cards and flowers that have since been placed in storage and replaced by a temporary plaque.
Mayor John Tory said the city will eventually erect a permanent memorial in consultation with the families of the victims and with people who live in the neighbourhood.