Warning: This story contains disturbing details.
The cause of death for four members of a Muslim family who died after being hit by a van in London, Ontario, on June 6, 2021, was “multiple trauma.”
In the trial of Nathaniel Veltman, 22, jurors at Ontario Superior Court in Windsor were told Wednesday that defense and prosecution lawyers agree about how the Afzaals died and that the defendant was driving the truck that ran over them.
The courtroom remained silent as Sarah Shaikh, one of the prosecutors, read the facts. It is the third week of proceedings in what is expected to be an eight-week trial.
Yumnah Afzaal, 15, her parents Madiha Salman, 44, and Salman Afzaal, 46, and family matriarch Talat Afzaal, 74, were killed while out for a walk with a nine-year-old boy, that survived.
“Talat Afzaal probably died on impact,” Shaikh said. “He suffered blunt injuries to the head, torso and extremities, with fractures and internal bleeding. His cause of death is multiple trauma.”
The accused was arrested hours after the attack. He is charged with four counts of first-degree murder, one count of attempted murder and terrorism, and has pleaded not guilty.
Veltman told police after his arrest that he attacked the family because they were Muslims, a determination he made because they were wearing traditional Pakistani clothing, according to earlier evidence presented at trial.
Prosecutors allege he was motivated by far-right ideology and planned the attack.
Salman Afzaal and Madiha Salman also suffered blunt injuries to the head, torso and limbs, as well as fractures and internal bleeding, the court heard. Yumnah Afzaal’s blunt injuries were predominantly to the torso, along with fractures and internal bleeding.
The jury previously heard that the van’s accelerator pedal was 100 per cent compressed when it hit the family.
Officer at the scene of the surrender questioned
Earlier on Wednesday, Const. Sarah Cochrane, who began testifying Tuesday, was cross-examined by defense attorney Christopher Hicks.
Cochrane was the London police officer who first encountered the defendant in the Cherryhill Mall parking lot, where he surrendered.
She told Hicks she looked for the defendant even though a police officer arrived shortly after because she was worried about what the suspect might do.
“I didn’t want to allow a change in the dynamic of what was happening,” he said. “If he had a gun, he could have used it or he could have gotten up and run away.”
The rest of the day was occupied by legal discussions without the jury present. These arguments are covered by a publication ban.
The trial continues Thursday.