Toronto van attack suspect's trial set for early February 2020
The 26-year-old accused of carrying out one of the most violent attacks in Canadian history is now scheduled to go to trial in 14 months, in connection to Toronto's deadly van attack earlier this year.
Alek Minassian is charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder and 16 counts of attempted murder, with the court setting his trial date for February 3, 2020.
Three to four months have been set aside for the trial, which will follow a judicial pre-trial and indictment hearing in late January 2019.
Minassian's lawyer Boris Bytensky said the possibility for a change of venue outside of Toronto is real.
"Mr. Minassian and I and his family continue to respect the fact that there are many grieving people and many victims in this tragedy," he said. "Putting the trial in a place where we don't have the direct connection to the victims is really a much safer and fair way to proceed in my opinion."
"But if an application is brought, the court will rule on it and we'll proceed wherever the court decides."
Bytensky said while it's an extensive investigation with hundreds of police officers involved, plus tons of video surveillance and witness accounts, the timeline for Minassian's case has been normal when it comes to these kinds of criminal proceedings.
The trial period gives the court and jurors enough time to avoid any potential delays or adjournments.
"It's always safer to set aside three to four months and end up using two, as opposed to setting aside two months and then trying to figure out a way to get jurors to stay for three to four," he said.
Back in October, city officials announced $3.5 million was being donated by the #TorontoStrong Fund to the victims and families impacted by the attack.
But lawyer Saron Gebresellassi, who has been acting as an advocate for victims, said there's still long-term impacts.
She said some of them have had to have their homes remodified, while others have had to fly in family members from other countries.
"It's really, really serious," she said. "Every court date, the bills are still due at the first of every month."
Asked how his client is doing, Bytensky said simply said he remains in custody.
"Really other than that, I don't think it's a process that I want to get into," he said.