John Doe Found Guilty  

In a decision as remarkable for the sensitivity with which it was delivered as for the verdict itself, Justice Anne Malloy this week found John Doe guilty of killing 10 people and severely injuring 16 others on Willowdale’s main street.

In reading her verdict the judge humanized the victims by speaking their names, giving their ages, and describing their injuries. But she refused to say the name of the perpetrator, concluding that he was motivated by a desire for fame which should not, in any way, be granted. She referred to him instead as John Doe and suggested that the media do likewise.

The verdict came almost three years after the horrendous “van attack” tragedy on Yonge St. The accused, by claiming that he was not criminally responsible for his actions because he had Autism Spectrum Disorder, not only re-victimized grieving family and friends but attempted to stigmatize those with ASD. The judge strongly rejected that defence.

Sentencing will come at a later date.

Let’s hope that the decision, and the way it was delivered, provides some comfort to the families of those who were murdered and to those living with their injuries from that day.

I’ll close by remembering the victims, as read by Justice Malloy:

  1. Ji Hun Kim (age 22)

  2. So He Chung (age 22)

  3. Geraldine Brady (age 83)

  4. Chul Min Kang (age 45)

  5. Mary Elizabeth Forsyth (age 94)

  6. Munir Abdo Habib Najjar (age 85)

  7. Anne Marie D’Amico (age 30)

  8. Beutis Renuka Amarasingha (age 45)

  9. Dorothy Sewell (age 80)

  10. Andrea Bradden (age 33)

  11. Xiaolong An (age 21) – injuries to his arm, elbows, and left knee

  12. So Ra (age 23) – broken jaw, fractured ribs

  13. Hyeon Jeong Moon (age 25) – bleeding to the brain and broken pelvis

  14. Jun Seok Park (age 33) – bleeding to the brain and fractured lumbar

  15. Mavis Justino (age 42) – dislocated shoulder, fractured left ribs, 15 stitches to the back of her head, two stitches to her right arm

  16. Robert Anderson (age 59) – bleeding in his skull, broken left ribs, collapsed left lung, bleeding in his kidney

  17. Amir Kiumarsi (age 52) – skull and spine fracture, abdominal bleeding

  18. Aleksandra Kozhevinikova (age 90) – hip surgery

  19. Catherine Riddell (age 67) – brain trauma, broken ribs, broken scapula, broken pelvis

  20. Dina Risin (age 80) – head injury

  21. Yunsheng (Bob) Tian (age 28) – traumatic brain injury, surgical fracture to the lumbar spine, fractured right humerus, 24 broken vertebrae, facial fractures, laceration to his left leg

  22. Morgan Anthony McDougall (age 26) – knocked unconscious, cuts and scrapes to face, hands, forearms, and head, requiring multiple stitches and staples

  23. Samantha Peart (age 23) – fractured pelvis, clavicle, and tailbone

  24. Sammantha Samson (age 35) – injuries to knee, right elbow and right foot

  25. Beverly Smith (age 81) – numerous broken bones, both legs had to be amputated above the knee

  26. Amaresh Tesfamariam (age 62) – major injuries including a cervical fracture

Even before the day of the attack had ended, and in the weeks and months following, residents responded to hate with love, gathering together in grief to comfort one another and pray for the victims and their families. I can think of no higher tribute to the memory of those who lost their lives, and that is how I will choose to forever remember that time.