TORONTO (AP) — A psychiatrist hired by defense lawyers for the man behind Toronto’s 2018 van attack that killed 10 found Alek Minassian had an “autistic way of thinking” that was severely distorted, a court heard Thursday.
In the first glimpse of evidence Minassian’s lawyers may present at his murder trial, court heard that a doctor who interviewed the 28-year-old found he was not psychotic but had a thought process similar to psychosis.
Minassian has admitted in court to planning and carrying out the April 23, 2018 attack in which he drove a van down a busy Toronto sidewalk, killing 10 people and injuring 16 others.
He pleaded not guilty to 10 counts of first-degree murder and 16 counts of attempted murder, and has asked to be found not criminally responsible for his actions.
His lawyers have yet to lay out what mental disorder Minassian had at the time that could have impacted his actions to the extent that he didn’t understand what he was doing was wrong.
But prosecutor Joe Callaghan provided insight into some of the evidence Minassian’s defense might raise by reading from a report prepared by a psychiatrist hired by Minassian’s lawyers.
“Overall it was our impression that despite the fact he was not psychotic, his autistic way of thinking was severely distorted similar to psychosis,” the report read.
Minassian denied he had symptoms consistent with psychotic illness, including visual and auditory hallucinations, the report noted.
“However, his thought process was very concrete and inflexible,” the report said
The trial previously heard that in a lengthy police interview, Minassian told a detective the attack was retribution against society because he was a lonely virgin who believed women wouldn’t have sex with him.
Minassian called himself an “incel,” short for “involuntary celibate,” an online subculture that has been linked to other attacks and that often promotes the idea men are entitled to have sex with women.
Minassian’s lawyer will try to prove on a balance of probabilities that it’s more likely than not that Minassian had a mental disorder that impacted his actions to the extent that he didn’t understand what he was doing was wrong.