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Accused killer of Muslim family in London, Ont., testifying in his own defence at terror trial

Nathaniel Veltman, accused of killing a Muslim family in London two years ago in what prosecutors say was a planned terror attack, is testifying this morning in his own defence at his trial in Ontario Superior Court in Windsor.

Nathaniel Veltman is 1st witness in the defence case, jurors were told this morning

A court sketch of Nathaniel Veltman, accused of killing a Muslim family in London, Ont.

Nathaniel Veltman, accused of killing a Muslim family in London two years ago in what prosecutors say was a planned terror attack, is testifying this morning in his own defence at his trial in Ontario Superior Court in Windsor.

"You will rely on common sense, life experience, your collective wisdom and human logic. It's an exercise best conducted in a rational and dispassionate manner," Veltman's lawyer, Christopher Hicks, told the jury on Thursday ahead of the testimony.

"There are two sides to every story. Presently, you only have the side that the prosecution has advanced. You are not in a position to draw any inferences or come to any conclusions yet."

Hicsk's 22-year-old client is charged with four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder, as well as associated terrorism charges in the June 6, 2021, killings of members of the Afzaal family.

Last week, the prosecution wrapped up its case in the trial, which began Sept. 11 and is expected to last eight weeks,

Also testifying during the defence case will be Dr. Julian Gojer, Hicks said. Gojer is a forensic psychiatrist who will talk about personality disorders, developmental disorders and substance use disorders, including the use of psychedelics and how they affect people.

Defence promises 'compelling evidence'

"Dr. Gojer is qualified to talk about obsessive compulsive disorder, depression, psychosis, complex trauma and other subjects, but most importantly, as you will see, hallucinogenic substances," Hicks told the jury.

"You can believe all, part or none of what he says, but I suggest you will find it compelling evidence."

Defence and prosecution lawyers agree the accused drove his Dodge Ram pickup truck into a Muslim family walking on a suburban street in London.

Yumnah Afzaal, 15, her parents Madiha Salman, 44, and Salman Afzaal, 46, and family matriarch Talat Afzaal, 74, were killed. A nine-year-old boy survived.

The Crown has said the killing was a result of the accused's far-right ideology, developed over months of online "research" that included watching videos of mass killings and reading white supremacist manifestos left by those killers, including immediately before leaving his apartment the night of the attack.

The Crown read out parts of the accused's own manifesto, entitled "A White Awakening," which railed against mass immigration, multiculturalism and perceived crimes against white people.

The jury has also heard that the accused took psilocybin, or magic mushrooms, in the early hours of June 5, 2021, about 40 hours before the attack on the Afzaal family.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kate Dubinski

Reporter/Editor

Kate Dubinski is a radio and digital reporter with CBC News in London, Ont. You can email her at kate.dubinski@cbc.ca.

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