MAX Tutiven, 44, who was found guilty by a jury in October of second-degree murder in the death of Jayesh Prajapati, 44, in a gas-and-dash incident in North York on September 15, 2012, was this week sentenced to life in prison and won’t be eligible for parole for 16 years.
Tutiven pleaded not guilty but he admitted that he hit and dragged Prajapati with his SUV for 78 meters after stealing $112.85 worth of gas. However, he claimed that he never saw Prajapati near his vehicle and only realized that he had hit someone a couple of days later.
Crown attorney told the court that Tutiven felt the impact of hitting Prajapati and heard people yelling at him to stop. A resident of a nearby apartment building testified he could hear the sound of Prajapati being dragged in the wheels of the SUV from his 18th-floor unit, according to the Toronto Star.
Tutiven was arrested three years later in Montreal.
Prajapati was an immigrant from India and had got Canadian citizenship not long before he died.
Judge Maureen Forestell said in her ruling: “Mr. Tutiven’s actions in callously killing a vulnerable victim, his lengthy criminal record and absence of any real prospect of rehabilitation call for a sentence that denounces the conduct, deters others and protects the public.”
Tutiven’s lawyer told the media that his client will likely appeal the verdict and the sentence.
The Star reported that Tutiven has 69 past convictions for theft, assault and dangerous driving. He had fled two prior accident scenes and in 2008 had his driver’s licence suspended for life. Tutiven had previously committed several gas thefts.
Prajapati’s widow Vaishali wrote in her victim impact statement: “I haven’t been able to experience a single day with peace or happiness.” She added: “My son has beared too much pain for a lifetime.”
Her son Rishabh, 16, said in his statement about a loving and caring father: “I want to thank you for being the first person I ever loved. I would be completely lost in this world without you.”