Unheard Evidence in Nathaniel Veltman’s Trial Sheds New Light on Motivations and Extremist Views

A jury is deliberating the fate of Nathaniel Veltman, accused of terrorism-motivated first-degree murder and attempted murder in the 2021 truck attack on five members of the Afzaal family in London, Ont. CBC’s Thomas Daigle breaks down the key evidence against Veltman and some of what the jury didn’t hear in the case.

Jurors in Nathaniel Veltman’s murder-terror trial were not privy to several significant details

As the trial of Nathaniel Veltman, the man accused of the fatal attack on a Muslim family in London, Ontario, concludes, new information has surfaced about evidence that the jury did not hear. Veltman stands trial for four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder in what the prosecution alleges was an act of terrorism.

Unveiled Details of the Accused’s Past and Ideologies

Alternate Targets and Ideologies: It was revealed that Veltman had contemplated other violent acts before the 2021 attack. The Crown Prosecutor, Jennifer Moser, disclosed that Veltman considered targeting abortion clinics and had a list of addresses for such clinics. The jury was unaware of these facts, as the evidence was deemed too prejudicial.

Influences and Inspirations: Veltman’s statement to the police, partially excluded from the trial, showed his long-standing preoccupation with extremist ideologies. He mentioned being inspired by anti-abortion extremist Scott Roeder and had views against various communities, including the LGBTQ+ and those supporting COVID-19 restrictions and vaccines. This breadth of hatred was not fully presented to the jury.

Manifesto and Extremist Literature: Veltman’s manifesto, “A White Awakening,” and his possession of extremist literature like Mein Kampf were significantly redacted or deemed inadmissible. The jury did not hear the full extent of his ideological leanings or the influence of other extremists like Brenton Tarrant, the Christchurch shooter.

Nathaniel Veltman (left to right) defence lawyer Peter Ketcheson, defence lawyer Christopher Hicks, crown attorney Fraser Ball, crown attorney Sarah Shaikh and members of the jury attend Veltman’s trial in Windsor, Ont. on Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2023 in a courtroom sketch. PHOTO BY ALEXANDRA NEWBOULD /THE CANADIAN PRESS

Legal Challenges and Defence Strategies

Defence’s Approach: Veltman’s defence lawyer, Christopher Hicks, faced challenges in presenting his client’s case. The defence wanted the jury to view 15 hours of detention cell footage to illustrate Veltman’s state of mind, eventually condensed to about four hours.

Expert Testimony Controversies: The trial saw contentious debates over the testimony of Dr. Julian Gojer, a forensic psychiatrist. The Crown questioned the validity of Gojer’s claims about the effects of magic mushrooms consumed by Veltman. Despite initial concerns, Gojer was permitted to present his testimony.

Mistrial Considerations: Hicks considered quitting and requested a mistrial citing concerns over the Crown’s language during closing arguments. However, this request was dismissed by Justice Renee Pomerance, who emphasized the need for a fair trial.

Justice Renee Pomerance, Nathaniel Veltman and Crown attorney Jennifer Moser, left to right, are seen in Ontario Superior Court in Windsor on Oct. 13. (Alexandra Newbould/The Canadian Press)

Implications of Withheld Evidence

The withholding of certain evidence from the jury raises questions about the impact on the trial’s outcome. It underscores the complexities of balancing fair trial rights with the need for the jury to be fully informed. As the jury deliberates, the depth of Veltman’s extremist views and the scope of his premeditated intentions remain partly obscured.

The Jury’s Deliberation

The jury, now in deliberation, must reach a verdict based on the evidence presented in court. The outcome of this high-profile case is awaited with anticipation, as it touches on issues of terrorism, hate crimes, and the complexities of legal proceedings in Canada.