Tragedy unfolded in June 2021 when four members of the Afzaal family were hit by a pickup truck and lost their lives. It has been agreed upon by the jury hearing the case that the vehicle was under the control of Nathaniel Veltman.
The incident was witnessed by Lindsay Marshall, who testified that she was on the deck of her apartment near the Hyde Park Road and South Carriage Road intersection in London, Ontario, when she noticed the distinctive sound of an engine accelerating. Marshall observed the truck veer off the road before it proceeded onto the sidewalk. Initially, she believed that what was hit was a mailbox or a sign.
In her testimony, Marshall described how she saw an unidentified object thrown airborne perhaps as high as forty feet. But the surreal event left her confused and uncertain of what she had actually witnessed. It wasn’t until an officer from London Police Services (LPS) rushed to the devastated area and began administering CPR to the object that she realized with horror that it was a human being that she had seen propelled into the air by the truck.
The shock was palpable for Marshall, who hastily composed a text message to her family stating, “I think I just saw a hit and run” as she tried to process the horrifying scenario. She also revealed how the truck regained its course on the pathway before retreating back onto the street and eventually disappearing from the scene. Roughly an hour later, Marshall offered her eyewitness account in an official statement to the police.
Defence attorney Christopher Hicks inquired about the approximate distance between Marshall’s vantage point and the place where the crash occurred. Marshall, who had earlier estimated the distance to be in the vicinity of one and a half lengths of a football field away, re-emphasized her inability to provide a more precise measurement of distance given.
Subsequently, the court recalled Viktor Poc, an LPS video analyst, to the stand for his cross-examination. Poc who had recovered and reviewed security footage from the location of the crash, the parking lot where Veltman was taken into custody, and the site within police headquarters where Veltman was booked and detained for his bail hearings, was available for clarification.
Hicks proceeds to introduce a four-hour-long video recording to the jury, illustrating Veltman’s experience within the London Police Service in the immediate hours after his detention. Starting with the footage showing the police vehicle taking Veltman into an underground parking facility where the cells were located. The video continues to show the arrestee being frisked, questioned, and in a visibly distressed state in his booking procedure. Dressed in a nondescript white t-shirt marked with a black cross, trouser pockets emptied and shoeless, Veltman seemed to be in some distress.
Veltman revealed during his booking that he had considered committing suicide two months prior to the crash but no longer entertained those thoughts. He had two prior charges for public intoxication, and mentioned an allergy to peanuts. Veltman also claimed no consumption of alcohol or any illicit substances prior to the mishap.
When asked if he wished to speak with a lawyer, Veltman responded nonchalantly that if one were available, he’d be agreeable to that. The jury was then briefly requested to temporarily exit the courtroom by Justice Renee Pomerance, with no particular reason divulged to the members. After their return, the Judge reminded the jury that Veltman’s earlier offenses had no consequence on the current matter before them and that public intoxication is not considered a criminal occurrence. The jury was then dismissed until the following day for the Judge to discuss legal issues with the defence and the prosecution.