The judge presiding over the trial of a man accused of killing four members of a Muslim family in London, Ont., delivered her final instructions to the jury on Wednesday, saying they had a duty to impartially assess the evidence in the case.
Nathaniel Veltman, 22, has pleaded not guilty to four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder after being accused of deliberately hitting the Afzaal family with his truck on June 6, 2021, while they were out for a walk.
Prosecutors have alleged Mr. Veltman’s actions amount to an act of terrorism.
Justice Renee Pomerance told the jury that they are “the judges of the facts” in the case and that they had to impartially assess the evidence.
“It’s your duty to decide whether the Crown has proven Nathaniel Veltman’s guilt beyond reasonable doubt,” she said.
“You have now heard all the evidence you were going to hear in this case. There will be no more evidence. You must make your decision based on all of the evidence presented to you in the courtroom.”
Earlier this week, the jury heard closing arguments from the defence and the Crown after more than two months of testimony and evidence presented in court.
Jurors are expected to begin deliberating when the judge finishes her instructions.
In addressing jurors in a Windsor, Ont., courtroom earlier Wednesday, the Crown argued that Mr. Veltman carried out a terrorist act, and should be convicted of four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder.
On Tuesday, the defence had argued Mr. Veltman is not guilty of first-degree murder, nor did he commit an act of terrorism, because he didn’t have criminal intent to kill the victims and didn’t deliberately plan the attack.
Forty-six-year-old Salman Afzaal; his 44-year-old wife, Madiha Salman; their 15-year-old daughter, Yumna; and her 74-year-old grandmother, Talat Afzaal, were killed in the attack, while the couple’s nine-year-old son was seriously hurt but survived.
During the trial, Mr. Veltman testified that he was influenced by the writings of a gunman who committed the 2019 mass killings of 51 Muslim worshippers at two mosques in New Zealand.
He also told jurors that he had been considering using his pickup truck, which he bought a month earlier, to carry out an attack and looked up information online about what happens when pedestrians get struck by cars at various speeds.
Mr. Veltman testified that he ordered a bulletproof vest and a military-style helmet online in the month leading up to the attack and wore them on the day he ran down the Afzaal family.
Mr. Veltman also told the jury that he felt an “urge’' to hit the family with his truck after seeing them walking on a sidewalk, adding that he knew they were Muslims from the clothes they were wearing and he noticed that the man in the group had a beard.
Jurors had previously seen video of Mr. Veltman telling a detective that his attack had been motivated by white-nationalist beliefs.
Court has heard that he wrote a manifesto in the weeks before the attack, describing himself as a white nationalist and peddling unfounded conspiracy theories about Muslims.
The case is the first where Canada’s terrorism laws are being put before a jury in a first-degree murder trial.