Calgary man was 'muscle' in Uber driver robbery-turned-murder, Crown argues

·2 min read
A man was found dead on a rural road near the Springbank Airport on Dec. 29, 2019. (Terri Trembath/CBC - image credit)
A man was found dead on a rural road near the Springbank Airport on Dec. 29, 2019. (Terri Trembath/CBC - image credit)

A Calgary man on trial for murder should be found guilty because he was "the muscle in this hustle," the prosecutor told jurors in final arguments Tuesday.

Andrew Christal is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Kasif Hirani, 30, who was stabbed 39 times on a rural road near the Springbank Airport on Dec. 29, 2019.

But Christal, 34, wasn't the one who stabbed Hirani, defence lawyer Jim Lutz pointed out.

And though it was a "ferocious assault," the accused killer played no role in the stabbing and should be acquitted, according to Lutz.

After his arrest, Christal told police that Robert Daignault stabbed Hirani in a planned robbery that turned violent.

Daignault, set to go on trial in January, was dating Trista Tinkler, who is now serving a six-year sentence for manslaughter in connection with the killing. She and Christal were childhood friends who had met earlier in the night at a southeast pub.

RCMP
RCMP

Hirani was driven to the remote location in his own Uber vehicle while Daignault and Tinkler attempted to get his banking passcodes.

Christal testified he did not know there was a plan to stab the victim. And Lutz pointed out Christal did not receive any of the $14,000 stolen from Hirani's accounts after his death.

'Integral and substantial role'

Lutz said his client believed he would "be next to Mr. Hirani in the ditch if he didn't co-operate."

In their testimony, both Christal and Tinkler said they were scared of Daignault.

"Mr. Christal had no idea Mr. Hirani was going to die," said Lutz. "Mr. Christal was not involved in this homicide."

But prosecutor Vince Pingitore said Christal played an "integral and substantial role" in the homicide.

Christal helped keep Hirani in the back of the car and provided the knife and a pair of gloves to Daignault, said Pingitore.

"Mr. Christal set out to rob Mr. Hirani … but the events of that night unfolded in such a way that Mr. Christal became aware that Mr. Daignault was going to kill Mr. Hirani.

'Just give him what he wants'

As the two others yelled at Hirani to give up his banking information, Christal told the victim to "just give him what he wants so you can get the f--k out of here," he told police.

Then Hirani threatened to have Tinkler killed.

That was the turning point, said Pingitore.

Christal admitted to police that he held the victim, who was struggling to escape, outside the vehicle, as the man was being stabbed.

On Wednesday, jurors will receive final instructions on how to apply the law to their deliberations before being sequestered until a verdict is reached.

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