News Toronto

Career criminal guilty of murder in gas-and-dash that killed attendant

By Sam Pazzano, Toronto Sun

Toronto - 

Jayesh Prajapati’s widow wept tears of relief as killer gas thief Max Tutiven was found guilty of second-degree murder in the driving death of her gas station attendant husband.

The jury returned its verdict after only six hours of deliberations Tuesday, concluding that career criminal Tutiven ran over and dragged the 44-year-old gas station employee’s body almost 78 metres to his death on Sept. 15, 2012.

Tutiven, 44, was visibly shaken by the sudden verdict. He was hit with an automatic life sentence for murdering the attendant, who tried to stop him from stealing $112.85 worth of gas from a Shell station.

Justice Maureen Forestell will convene a sentencing hearing on Nov. 1 to decide how long — between 10 years and 25 years — that Tutiven must spend in prison before he can apply for parole.

“My husband was an innocent man just trying to make a living,” said the emotional widow, Vaishali, immediately after the verdict. “I’m pleased the jury said it was murder.”

Tutiven has admitted he killed the Shell station attendant but he insisted it was an accident.

He also testified he has ripped off gas stations “every three or four days” since he was 16 — except for the time when he was in jail.

Tutiven said he never saw the victim in front of his Isuzu Rodeo SUV.

As Tutiven fled to escape the gas bill on Sept. 15, 2012, a black car was blocking Tutiven’s getaway, he told the jury.

He testified that he had to “unwedge his car” around a black vehicle car parked in front of Tutiven’s truck. Tutiven finally manoeuvred around the vehicle and thought he struck and then dragged a pylon as he exited the service station at 850 Roselawn Ave.

The jury rejected his version of events.

spazzano@postmedia.com