A Canadian man was “looking for Muslims to kill” when he rammed his pickup truck into a family out for an evening outing, prosecutors said in closing arguments Tuesday.
Nathaniel Feltman, now 22, goes on trial for eliminating three generations of the Afzal family in June 2021 in London, Ontario.
He has pleaded not guilty to four counts of murder, which prosecutors say was premeditated, as well as one count of attempted murder.
This is the first time a Canadian jury has been asked to consider a white supremacist terrorist motive.
While admitting Feltman was responsible for the killings, the defense said he should be convicted of the lesser charge of manslaughter.
Prosecutor Fraser Bull told the jury they had “everything they would need for a conviction in this case”, including the defendant’s confession to police.
He said Feltman wrote a “terrorist manifesto” found on his computer, espousing white nationalism and describing his hatred of Muslims.
The accused was “dressed like a soldier”, wearing armour, a helmet and “inflating himself” before the attack. “He was hunting down Muslims to kill them,” Fraser said.
“pedal to metal”
When Feltman passed the Afzal family on a London street, he turned his pickup truck around, accelerated “pedal to the metal,” and jumped the curb as he drove toward them, the Crown attorney said.
Corpses flew into the air.
Salman Afzal, 46 years old, his wife Madiha Salman, 44 years old, their daughter Yumna, 15 years old, and her grandmother Talaat Afzal, 74 years old, were killed. A nine-year-old orphan child was seriously injured in the hit-and-run accident, but it did not threaten his life.
Feltman was arrested in a nearby parking lot and told police he wanted to “send a strong message” against Muslim immigration.
Paul said the message was “brutal and terrifying: Leave this country or you and your loved ones could be next.”
Defense attorney Christopher Hicks said Feltman suffered from mental disorders and childhood trauma that led to “depression and anxiety.”
He also consumed three grams of hallucinogenic psilocybin mushrooms before the attack, which, according to Hicks, caused him to feel disconnected or disconnected from reality “as if he was in a dream or a surreal state, a state of extreme confusion where his brain was in turmoil.”
Hicks concluded that he was “responsible for the deaths of these people,” but added that Feltman did not have the “mental capacity necessary to plan and deliberate” murder or terrorism.
Feltman faces life in prison if convicted of first-degree murder. Manslaughter carries a maximum penalty of seven years in prison.
It was the deadliest attack against Muslims in Canada since the shooting at a mosque in Quebec City in 2017 that left six dead. The perpetrator of the shooting was not charged with terrorism.
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