Woman accused of tossing chair off condo balcony granted bail
19-year-old turned herself in to police in wake of video showing person throwing chair from Toronto highrise
A 19-year-old woman accused of tossing a chair off a condo balcony in downtown Toronto has been granted bail after appearing in court Wednesday afternoon.
Marcella Zoia was charged with mischief endangering life, mischief damaging property under $5,000 and common nuisance.
The case made headlines earlier this week after a video of a woman tossing a chair from a highrise balcony was circulated widely on social media.
Zoia made a brief court appearance Wednesday afternoon and was released on $2,000 bail and ordered to live with her mother. She must also not have any contact with the four individuals who were allegedly with her at the time.
"She is embarrassed by what happened. She wished it never happened. Of course, she would never wish anyone would be hurt," said Greg Leslie, Zoia's lawyer.
Leslie said she understands the public outrage. He said he'll have discussions with the prosecution and said it might not go to trial but said he'll see how it develops.
Const. David Hopkinson said the apartment was being used as a short-term rental. Airbnb spokesman Ben Breit said the company reached out to Toronto police to offer their full support in their investigation "of any individuals involved with this abhorrent act."
"We remain outraged by the blatant disregard for community safety on display in the video," Breit said. "We have no evidence at this time to suggest that the accused has ever been an Airbnb user, but we have suspended the account of a guest with a reservation at the building pending further review."
The City of Toronto has examined banning short-term rentals not regularly occupied by the owner, but the potential rules are undergoing review.
Mayor John Tory said he hopes the case is a lesson to others.
"This is irresponsible behaviour that is unacceptable," he said of the video. "It was not just a lark gone bad. It was grossly irresponsible behaviour that could have caused serious injury and death."
Zoia surrendered on Wednesday morning at Toronto Police Service's 52 Division, at about 7 a.m. ET. She came in on her own and was co-operative with police, according to Det. Todd Higo. Her next court appearance will be on March 22 at 9 a.m.
On the weekend, a video was circulated on social media that shows a blond woman, dressed in black, tossing a chair from a highrise building. Police believe it occurred Saturday around 10 a.m. at a condo in the Harbour and York streets area, which overlooks the Gardiner Expressway and Lake Shore Boulevard.
On Tuesday, police made a public appeal for the woman to surrender, saying they knew her identity.
Const. David Hopkinson, spokesperson for the Toronto police, noted no one was injured in the tossing incident.
"Once we had known who she was, investigators reached out to her and they started to make arrangements for her to turn herself in. We want to give her the opportunity to speak to her lawyer and then come in on her own volition," Hopkinson said on Wednesday.
"It's the best for everyone. This being a case where no one was injured, we didn't have any public safety concerns. It gave us leeway to try and treat her in the best possible way. And that's what has happened."
Chair-throwing appeared 'very callous'
Police said on Monday that two chairs, among other items, were thrown over the balcony.
There was outrage over the possibility the tossed objects could have injured someone or caused an accident, as the expressway is right below.
Hopkinson said the chair throwing appeared "very callous" because of the apparent disregard for harm that could have been caused, as the area is heavily populated.
He said he obtained a copy of the video on Sunday and police began to investigate the next day.
Police received flurry of tips
The items, which police said were thrown from a "very high floor" in the building, landed in front of the entrance to the condo, police said.
Police said they received a flurry of emails from members of the public with information about the woman on Monday.
"I received more tips, calls, advice and information on this than on anything else," Hopkinson said.
"The opportunity that somebody might have been injured was easily there."
Jenna Periti, who has known Zoia from the time they attended St. Elizabeth Catholic High School in Thornhill, Ont., called her a smart girl. She said Zoia came to Canada from Brazil just before ninth grade and lived with her mom.
According to the Criminal Code, a conviction on the charge of mischief endangering life alone could lead to a prison term.
"Every one who commits mischief that causes actual danger to life is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for life," the Criminal Code says.
Anyone with information about the chair-tossing is urged to call police at 416-808-5200 or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-TIPS (8477).
With files from Nathan Crocker, Linda Ward, Muriel Draaisma, and The Canadian Press