Judge calls man sentenced to life in gas-and-dash murder 'shockingly callous'

Max Edwin Tutiven, found guilty of second-degree murder in the death of a gas station attendant in 2012, has been sentenced to life in prison with no option to apply for parole until he serves 16 years.

Max Edwin Tutiven struck Jayesh Prajapati when fleeing a Shell station in 2012, dragging him under car

Max Edwin Tutiven was found guilty in October of second-degree murder in the gas-and-dash death of attendant Jayesh Prajapati at a Shell station in September 2012. (Toronto Police Service)

Max Edwin Tutiven, found guilty of second-degree murder in the death of a gas station attendant in 2012, was sentenced to life in prison with no option to apply for parole for 16 years on Wednesday.  

Tutiven struck Jayesh Prajapati and dragged him under his car while attempting to flee after stealing gas at a Shell station in the Briar Hill area.

Judge Maureen Forestell called Tutiven's crime "horrific" and his behaviour "shockingly callous" as she handed down her sentence.

She said his lengthy criminal record, his decision to flee for three years to evade arrest, and his failure to take full responsibility for the crime required her to increase his parole ineligibility period far beyond the legal minimum of 10 years. 

Tutiven fled while trying to steal gas

Prajapati, 44, was working at the Shell station on Sept. 15, 2012 when Tutiven arrived to fill up his Isuzu Rodeo.

He had filled his tank with more than $100 worth of gas and was attempting to drive away without paying when Prajapati raced outside to stop him.

He was hit by Tutiven's car before and dragged for approximately 78 metres. He died in hospital.

Jayesh Prajapati, who had moved from India to Canada in 2006, died after being struck and dragged by a car while trying to stop a gas and dash in 2012.

During the trial, Tutiven, who pleaded not guilty, told the jury he believed he had struck a pylon that became stuck under his car. He said that he did not look back after driving away. 

Tutiven then fled to Montreal, where he remained for three years before being arrested. 

A jury found him guilty of second-degree murder in October.

"The jury, by its verdict, concluded that Mr. Tutiven was aware that his actions were causing bodily harm likely to cause death," wrote Forestell in the judgement. 

Widow says she has found justice

Prajapati, along with his wife and son, had moved to Canada from India in 2006. He held a master's degree in chemistry, but was unable to find work in his field and had been working at the gas station to support his family.

His widow, Vaishali Prajapati, was watching from the courtroom gallery as Tutiven's sentence was handed down, visibly emotional. 

Vaishali Prajapati, flanked by Eglinton-Lawrence MPP Mike Colle, spoke to the media through an interpreter, saying that she had finally found justice. (Petar Valkov/CBC News)

Speaking outside of the courthouse, she said she "finally" had justice and thanked the police for their dogged pursuit of Tutiven in the years after he fled the province.  

"Whatever happened with my husband was really very bad and I wouldn't wish that it would happen to anybody else," she said through an interpreter.

Appeal planned 

Tutiven's lawyer, Edward Sapiano, confirmed after the sentence was handed down that his client planned to appeal both the decision and the sentence.

"He's always admitted his culpability in this case. His defence was he was guilty of manslaughter, not murder — that he did not intend to kill this man," said Sapiano.   

Edward Sapiano, lawyer for Max Tutiven, said his client had concern for the family of the deceased and did not intend to kill Prajapati. (Petar Valkov/CBC News)

Tutiven will not seek bail pending appeal, said Sapiano, explaining that Tutiven "knows how the justice system works. You don't go on the lam for three years and then expect bail."

When asked about his client's reaction to the sentence, Sapiano said Tutiven had a message for the public. 

"He told me just a few moments ago that all those people who think that he's a demon should make a contribution to the family of the deceased, or their opinions are not worth much,"  he said, adding later that "he does not think himself a demon. He does not think highly of those people who think he's a demon."