The Toronto man who pleaded guilty to second-degree murder after pushing a stranger in front of a TTC subway train in 2018 now admits he thought it was his landlord who had evicted him.
At a virtual court hearing in front of Justice John McMahon on Thursday, 55-year-old John Reszetnik admitted after pushing Yosuke Hayahara in front of an eastbound train at the Bloor/Yonge Station, that he told a firefighter and a police officer that he did it.
According to the supplementary facts read out in court, Reszetnik entered the eastbound/westbound platform at 10:07 a.m. on June 18 and remained on the platform for about five minutes before seeing Hayahara.
Reszetnik said he watched Hayahara walk towards a bench in the middle of the platform and as Hayahara got up in order to board an incoming eastbound subway train, Reszetnik positioned himself almost directly behind Hayahara as the subway entered the station and pushed Hayahara in front of the subway car.
The train came to a stop, the station was locked down and passengers were removed from the platform, according to the facts. But Reszetnik lingered and watched TTC emergency services personnel that had arrived on scene. He didn’t approach any of the officials but was one of the last to leave the platform. He then exited onto Bloor Street and walked to a McDonald’s restaurant on Yonge Street where he ordered a drink. Reszetnik then returned to the Bloor-Yonge station and tried to re-enter unsuccessfully because the station was locked down.
At approximately 10:45 a.m, 30 minutes after the subway pushing incident, Reszetnik walked up to the cab of a firetruck and leaned into the passenger-side window and said to the firefighter who was in the driver’s seat, “I am the one that pushed him,” and then stated, “mental illness.”
To this, the firefighter asked, “Why did you push him?” Reszetnik replied, “I thought it was my landlord, he evicted me.” The firefighter asked Reszetnik to stay put and asked police to attend the location.
A few minutes later, Reszetnik spoke with a female police officer who was at the scene near the firetruck. As she was speaking to the firefighter, Reszetnik interrupted and said, “It was me.” The officer asked, “What was you?” Reszetnik replied, “I did it. I pushed him. I killed him.” The officer then asked “What him?” and Reszetnik replied, “On the subway.”
Reszetnik was then arrested for aggravated assault and was escorted into her police cruiser, according to the facts.
After Reszetnik entered the backseat of the police car, he was read his rights and was told he was under arrest for assault and that he was not obliged to say anything.
Reszetnik said, “I murdered him. What are you doing? It’s not an assault. It’s murder. I murdered him, I pushed him in front of the subway.”
A few seconds later, when he was asked if he had ever been in trouble with police before, Reszetnik stated, “No, I murdered him. I freaked out and pushed him on the subway. I don’t know why they didn’t arrest me on the platform. It’s got to be on video. I freaked out. I imagined my landlord, who – he’s evicting me, and I can’t find a place and I’ll be homeless … I really did it. It’s no joke, I killed him for God’s sakes.”
Reszetnik was taken back to Toronto police 53 division and while being booked he said, “I regret what I did.”
The Crown suggested that Reszetnik undergo a Section 21 mental health assessment in advance of a sentencing hearing but said Reszetnik would have to consent to it. Defence lawyer Elizabeth Gaudet responded that she continues to work with her client to see if she can learn more about his mental health history and pointed to an exhibit from a doctor in which Reszetnik is diagnosed with major depression, general diagnosis and social anxiety.
McMahon then spoke directly to Reszetnik who appeared via zoom from the Toronto South Detention Centre and strongly urged him to consent to a mental health assessment.
“If we look at the nature of this case, in light of the nature of his totally not without motive, pushing an innocent man in front of a subway car and then admitting it, it seems that mental health may have played a significant factor. For the protection of the public and for the purpose of sentencing, the court needs as much information as possible,” said McMahon.
“To ensure this never happens again and to ensure you get the help you need, and it may impact how long the sentence would be, it would be in your best interest.”
The sentence for second-degree murder is an automatic life sentence with no chance of parole for 10 to 25 years. However, McMahon told the court earlier in January that Reszetnik will be sentenced to a period of parole ineligibility of 10 to 18 years.
A sentencing hearing is set for two days in March.