The man charged in an alleged gas-and-dash killing may have intentionally struck the gas station attendant before dragging him nearly 80 metres under his vehicle, a Crown attorney told the court on the first day of his trial.
Max Edwin Tutiven is charged with second-degree murder in the death of Jayesh Prajapati, who worked at a Shell station at Roselawn Road and Marlee Avenue.
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On Sept. 15, 2012, Tutiven is alleged to have driven his silver Isuzu Rodeo to the station, where he stole $112.85 in gas. As Teutiven was trying to flee, Prajapati rushed outside of the interior of the gas station in an attempt to stop the robbery when he was hit by the vehicle, according to prosecutors.
In her opening remarks to the jury Tuesday morning, Crown attorney Jenny Rodoupolos said Tutiven either saw Prajapati and intentionally hit him while fleeing, or chose to continue driving after knowingly striking him.
"Mr. Tutiven did not stop. Instead he accelerated out of the gas station, all the while dragging Mr. Prajapati until his body was dislodged just past the train tracks on Roselawn Avenue," Rodopoulos said. "Again, Mr. Tutiven did not stop. Instead, he fled the scene, leaving Mr. Prajapati to die."
Jurors see video evidence
Tutiven has pleaded not guilty and none of the Crown's allegations have been proven in court.
The court saw a collection of photographic and video evidence during the trial's first day, including security footage that allegedly captured Tutiven stealing the gas and Prajipati running out of the store and into the lot moments before he was struck.
His widow, Vaishali Prajapati, left the courtroom multiple times during the morning session while the most graphic information and evidence was being discussed, including photos showing blood on the pavement of Roselawn Avenue.
"I'm so upset right now," Vaishali Prajapati said afterwards.
She was accompanied in court by MPP Mike Colle, who was a customer at the station and knew Jayesh Prajapati before his death.
"She has gone through hell and back over the last five years," said Colle, who unsuccessfully tried to pass legislation requiring pre-payment at gas stations to be called "Jayesh's Law" after the incident.
Death an 'accident,' says accused's mother
Tutiven's mother Julia Tutiven said she too is shaken by the incident and trial, but was adamant that her son did not intentionally run down Prajapati.
She admitted that Tutiven had run into some legal trouble as a teenager, but that he'd done nothing approaching the seriousness of a possible murder.
"What happened was an accident," she told CBC Toronto. "If Max tried to kill somebody … impossible. My son doesn't have that kind of heart."
However, the Crown says it will present security footage showing Tutiven performing gas-and-dashes in other instances before Prajapati's death.
The trial resumes Wednesday.