On September 12, 2018 in Windsor, Ontario, three teens attacked high-school student Jayden Trudell, punching the 14-year-old from behind, throwing him to the ground head first, and continuing the beating when he was down and unconscious. In what his mother described as a “barbaric” attack, Trudell sustained a skull fracture, a brain bleed and a broken bone.
The teen survived and in August of 2019, less than one year later, Ontario Court Justice Micheline Rawlins sentenced one attacker to five months, another to three months, and the third was discharged with conditions. The case bears stark contrast to another Windsor attack that did claim the victim’s life. This suspect has been in custody nearly two years but the murder case has yet to reach trial.
On Sunday October 8, 2017, Anne Widholm took a morning stroll on Windsor’s Ganatchio Trail. The 75-year-old grandmother and Sunday school teacher was picking up litter when, as police charge, Habibullah Ahmadi, 21, attacked the woman and left her unconscious and near death.
“In my 12 years in Windsor, this is the most severe beating I’ve seen,” neurosurgeon Dr. Balraj Jhawar told the Windsor Star. Dr. Jhawar detailed multiple brain hemorrhages, fractured vertebrae and “the worst skull fractures” he had seen in more than a decade. “This is among the most brutal things I’ve seen in my career,” Dr. Jhawar explained. “Her eyes were so bruised, they were swollen shut.”
Police said the attack appeared to be “random,” but Dr. Jhawar found that judgment “totally unacceptable.” The attack was not just another assault but “maybe representing a new, dark side of Windsor that we can’t let propagate.”
Habibullah Ahmadi, 21, made no statement and any information about his motive failed to emerge. In a departure from standard practice with violent criminals, police did not release the suspect’s booking photo.
Ahmadi was described as a “Windsor man” who also calls himself “Daniel” but locals did not learn how long he had lived in Windsor and what family members, if any, had to say about him. Not a single news story detailed where Habibullah Ahmadi went to school or where he worked. No fellow students or work colleagues went on record about the accused.
Widholm remained in critical condition and Habibullah Ahmadi made a court appearance on October 23, 2017, more than two weeks after the attack. The initial charge of aggravated assault had been changed to attempted murder. Attorney Patricia Brown represented Ahmad and Justice of the Peace Salma Jafar denied bail.
In late July of 2018, CTV news said AM800 News, CKLW, has learned that a date for Habibullah’s trial would be set sometime in January 2019, though no official court or police document was cited. The CTV piece came headlined, “Windsor man going to trial for alleged Ganatchio Trail attack” and cited “an alleged vicious attack of an elderly woman.”
Ann Widholm never emerged from the coma and passed away on December 15, 2018, at Windsor Regional Hospital. The charges against Habibullah Ahmadi, originally assault, then attempted murder, were now upgraded to second-degree murder. No trial took place in January of 2019 and no new information emerged about Habibullah Ahmadi.
Local and national feminists did not protest the murder as an example of violence against women or toxic masculinity. Likewise, if anybody thought the attack a hate crime, they did not speak up. Windsor mayor Drew Dilkens tweeted that Widholm “exemplified the can-do Windsor spirit and my most sincere condolences go out to her family for their loss.” It was as though the victim had died peacefully, and of natural causes.
Former Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynn, a crusader against bullying, never offered a statement on the case. Current Premier Doug Ford of the Progressive Conservative Party did not issue a comment. News reports turn up no proclamations on the attack from Lisa Gretzky, a New Democratic Party MPP for Windsor, or from the NDP provincial leader Andrea Horwath.
Last year, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau championed an 11-year-old Toronto girl who claimed a man twice cut her hijab, which turned out to be a hoax. Trudeau had nothing to say about the attack on Anne Widholm, which was not a hoax. Her most vocal advocate has been Dr. Jhawar, who described the victim as “a super good person.”
As the second anniversary of the attack approached, attorney Patricia Brown’s office told this writer they had no trial date and could not comment. Police and local reporters are likewise silent, but some realities are evident.
Jayden Trudell, 14, survived a vicious attack and in less than one year, relatives of Jayden Trudell saw due process, a trial, and punishment of the perpetrators. Anne Widholm, 75, suffered the worst attack Dr. Jhofar had ever seen but did not survive. This was murder but nearly one year after the victim’s death, and two years after the attack, Habibullah Ahmadi has not faced trial and nobody involved in the case will say a word about him.
The authorities in Windsor protect the public from the truth about murder suspects such as Habibullah Ahmadi. This secrecy and obstructionism overrides concern for victims of violent crime in general and murder victims such as Anne Widholm in particular. All told, the case suggests a two-track, separate-but-unequal judicial system is already the reality in Ontario.
(Windsor Star photo)