A Toronto man has been found guilty of second-degree murder in the gas-and-dash death of an attendant in 2012.
Max Edwin Tutiven had pleaded not guilty in the death of Jayesh Prajapati, although he admitted to the jury that he was behind the wheel of the SUV that struck the attendant.
Prajapati, 44, was working at a Shell station in the Briar Hill area on Sept. 25, 2012 when he was hit by Tutiven's silver Isuzu Rodeo.
Tutiven stole $112.85 in gas before trying to flee without paying. That's when Prajapati, who had rushed out of the store to try to stop him, was run down and dragged nearly 80-metres. He later died in hospital.
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Tutiven told the jury during cross-examination that he thought it was "impossible" that he had hit the attendant after pulling away from the pump, believing he had struck a pylon instead.
"I just didn't think it was possible," Tutiven told Crown attorney Joe Callaghan in trial last month.
On Friday, the defence urged the jury during closing arguments to find Tutiven guilty of manslaughter instead. But after nearly six hours of deliberation, the jurors reached their second-degree murder verdict Tuesdayevening.
Edward Sapiano, Tutiven's defence lawyer, declined to comment following the jury's decision.
The trial heard that Tutiven thought a "very loud" scraping sound was a pylon as he sped away on Roselawn Avenue. The sound stopped after Tutiven crossed nearby train tracks, he said, recalling he was "happy the noise wasn't there anymore. He claimed he didn't look back after Prajapati became dislodged from the vehicle.
Toronto police Det. Robert North said he was "very pleased" with the verdict, noting jurors were able to arrive at a decision so quickly because "they listened very intently" throughout the trial.
"I'm just thankful that the jury came back the way they did," North said.
Prajapati's widow, Vaishali, left the courtroom in tears after the verdict. When asked by reporters if she thought the right decision was reached, she responded, "Yes, I'm 100 per cent sure."
In addition to his wife, Prajapati leaves behind a son in Grade 12.
The family came to Canada from India in 2006. Prajapati held a master's degree in chemistry, but was unable to find work in his field. He supported his family by working at the Shell gas station.
Tutiven will be sentenced on Nov. 1.