Canadian man claims mental illness after killing Muslim family
A Canadian jury has heard closing arguments in the case of a man accused of murdering four members of a Muslim family with his vehicle.
The closing arguments have been presented to a Canadian jury in the case of Nathaniel Veltman, a 22-year-old man accused of murdering four members of a Muslim family with his vehicle.
Veltman faces four first-degree murder charges along with one count of attempted murder, and also terrorism counts.
Prosecutors assert that the family was targeted solely because of their faith.
Both the defense and the prosecution agree that Veltman was driving the vehicle. Despite this, Veltman has pleaded not guilty, claiming that he was in a “dreamlike state” on the day of the incident.
On June 6, 2021, Veltman allegedly struck three generations of the Afzaal family in London, Ontario while they were on an evening walk, resulting in the deaths of Salman Afzaal, 46, his wife Madiha Salman, 44, their daughter Yumna Afzaal, 15, and Mr. Afzaal’s mother Talat Afzaal, 74.
Their nine-year-old son was seriously injured but survived.
The case is significant as it represents the first time a Canadian jury is hearing legal arguments on terrorism related to white supremacy.
In addition to determining the guilt on the murder charges, the jury must assess whether Veltman’s actions can be classified as terrorism.
After 10 weeks of proceedings, closing arguments were presented on Tuesday in a Windsor, Ontario court. During the trial, Veltman testified that he had consumed a large quantity of magic mushrooms about 40 hours prior to the crash.
He admitted that the thought of harming Muslims crossed his mind after taking the drug, but he resisted. However, when he encountered the Afzaal family while out for food, he claimed that he was unable to control the “urge.”
Forensic psychiatrist Julian Gojer, another witness, informed the jury that Veltman has been diagnosed with various mental health issues, including obsessive-compulsive disorder, severe depression, anxiety, and a personality disorder.
According to Gojer, the consumption of magic mushrooms likely worsened Veltman’s existing mental health conditions.