The man accused of second-degree murder in the September 2012 death of Toronto gas station attendant Jayesh Prajapati told the jury deciding his fate that he killed Prajapati but never intended to do so.
Forty-four-year-old Max Tutiven appeared in court wearing a blue hoodie and said on the stand he had been waiting for a moment to speak about the incident for five years.
Prajapati was killed on Sept. 15, 2012 after running after a customer who drove away from the Shell station where he worked at the corner of Roselawn and Marlee Avenues.
The 44-year-old father and husband was dragged 78 metres by the Isuzu Rodeo that Tutiven admitted he was driving. Prajapati was pronounced dead at the scene.
Tutiven testified that after pumping $112 worth of gas, a black car came out of nowhere and parked in front of him and blocked his vehicle which forced him to reverse in order to exit the gas station.
He added he managed to get around the black car but said he never saw Jayesh Prajapati in his path when he struck him.
Tutiven testified that just before turning onto Roselawn Avenue, he heard a noise that sounded like a pylon.
“I have driven over a pylon many years ago when I was younger,” he said in court. “I ended up dragging it for quite a bit.”
Tutiven’s lawyer Edward Sapiano asked him if he thought he was dragging a pylon on the day in question and he said that’s what he believed at the time.
The accused was arrested by police in Montreal on Sept. 15, 2015, after Toronto police put out a $25,000 reward for his capture. Tutiven pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder.
The crown must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Tutiven either intentionally struck Prajapati and did not stop or did not hit him on purpose but continued driving after realizing he was dragging him.
Tutiven told the jury he had been committing gas thefts since he was 16 years old “every three to four days” except when he’s been in jail.
He estimated he had stolen gas from stations 500 to 800 times in his life. Tutiven was on probation at the time of the fatal collision.
“I never thought that anything would happen,” he told the jury of the gas theft. “I never even had someone scream or catch me.”
Prajapati’s widow Vaishali listened intently with the help of a translator as Tutiven delivered his testimony. The trial continues.