Toronto

Case against van attack suspect Alek Minassian will go straight to trial

The case of a man accused in a deadly van attack in north Toronto will skip a preliminary hearing and head straight to trial.

25-year-old faces 10 counts of first-degree murder and 16 counts of attempted murder

Alek Minassian, shown here in a court sketch from a previous appearance, is facing 10 counts of first-degree murder in connection with the deadly Toronto van attack. His case is set to go straight to trial. (Pam Davies/CBC)

The case of a man accused in a deadly van attack in north Toronto will skip a preliminary hearing and head straight to trial.

Alek Minassian, 25, of Richmond Hill, Ont., faces 10 counts of first-degree murder and 16 counts of attempted murder after he allegedly drove a rental van down a crowded sidewalk on April 23.

Minassian's lawyer, Boris Bytensky, said it's still too soon to say whether or not his client will enter a guilty plea.

"There will be an appropriate time to discuss it … it isn't right now," he told reporters outside the courthouse.

The prosecution says the Attorney General has granted its request to proceed by a direct indictment in the case.

Minassian did not appear in person or by video during a brief hearing on his case this morning.

Bytensky said today's decision has been in the works for months, and cautioned it could still be 10 to 18 months before the trial begins in earnest, largely due to the huge amount of evidence — from witnesses accounts to surveillance video — that has to be reviewed.

Bytensky declined to say how Minassian himself is doing. He also wouldn't disclose whether or not Minassian has undergone a mental health assessment, although Bytensky suggested it was a possibility.

"We'll take whatever steps are necessary in that regard," he said. 

Police have previously said they haven't identified a motive for the attack, but that the evidence they had didn't warrant terrorism charges.

Minassian's family has said they grieve for the victims of the attack.

Pre-trial proceedings are expected to resume in December.

With files from CBC News

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