'Very emotional' gas-and-dash murder trial ends with manslaughter verdict
Joshua Mitchell was on trial for 2nd-degree murder in the 2015 death of gas station attendant Maryam Rashidi
A Calgary jury has acquitted Joshua Mitchell of murder but convicted him of manslaughter in the fatal gas-and-dash death of Maryam Rashidi.
The jury returned with a verdict on Friday just after 2:30 p.m. MT, nearly a full day after its deliberations began.
The foreman cried as she delivered the verdict in a shaky voice. Mitchell showed no reaction.
"When I addressed the jury, I told them this has been a gut-wrenching and very emotional trial," said Mitchell's lawyer Kim Ross. "I didn't expect it was going to be any less for them than what it was for us."
Mitchell drove away without paying for a full tank of diesel on June 7, 2015. Rashidi, a Centex gas station attendant, chased the stolen Ford F350.
She climbed on the truck's hood while it was stuck in traffic along 16th Ave. N.W. Mitchell tried to jostle her off but she eventually fell under the vehicle, which accelerated and drove over her, causing fatal injuries.
The only issue jurors had to consider was whether Mitchell was guilty of second-degree murder, meaning he intended to cause Rashidi's fatal injuries, or manslaughter, a verdict that assumes Rashidi's death was an accident.
"Obviously I'm very happy, I think this was the right verdict," said Ross. "I think the jury came and obviously made the right findings of fact."
The prosecution has already said it will not appeal the verdict.
"I think it's very hard to determine what's in the mind of an offender at the time they commit an offence," said Crown prosecutor Jonathan Hak.
"I think because the jury could not be satisfied that he meant to cause bodily harm knowing death was a likely result, they reached the verdict that was proper for them to reach in law, but a very difficult task for a jury."
Rashidi took the job at the Centex station after she and her husband were laid off from their jobs as engineers in Calgary's oil and gas industry.
The couple and their six-year-old son had moved to Calgary from Iran about four months earlier.
Mitchell's next court date is May 12 when the date for a sentencing hearing will be set.
Neither lawyer would say what they'll be seeking for a sentence.