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Co-defendant in Springbank Uber driver murder claims innocence, court hears

Andrew Christal is on trial for second-degree murder in the December 29, 2019 murder of Uber driver Kasif Hirani, whose body was found on a rural road near Springbank Airport

An Airdrie man on trial for second degree murder continues to maintain his innocence in the death of a Calgarian whose body was found on a rural road near Springbank Airport in late 2019.

Andrew Christal is before a jury this week in the death of Kasif Hirani, who was killed in the early morning hours of December 29, 2019.

Hirani was stabbed 25 times in the abdomen, face, neck and hands. The body of the Uber driver was discovered by a man walking his dog later that morning.

A cigarette butt found 15 feet from the deceased’s body contained Christal’s DNA. He is co-accused in the murder with Robert Daignault and Trista Tinkler, the latter having been sentenced to a six-year manslaughter sentence for her role in Hirani’s death after his trial in February.

Christal said in a videotaped police interview presented to the court on April 19 that he saw Daignault stab Hirani and alleges he had no role in Hirani’s death.

“We went for a ride and I didn’t even know where we were going…I didn’t even know what was going on,” he said, admitting he was on drugs at the time, namely cocaine.

Tinkler, who was one of the first witnesses called in Christal’s trial at its start on April 11, claims she knew of a plan to rob Hirani – a friend of hers – but said that she did not know that he would be killed.

She admitted in her testimony to luring Hirani with the promise of sex for money. Tinkler said they met in the parking lot of the Regal Beagle Pub in Calgary on 94th Avenue SW after meeting Christal there for drinks that evening.

Tinkler and Christal separated and the woman left with Hirani to buy a box of condoms at a nearby gas station and then went to a liquor store with him, according to an agreed statement of facts read in court. by prosecutor Vince Pingitore. She and Hirani then went to the house where Tinkler was staying with Daignault, her boyfriend.

Hirani was forced to sit in the back seat of his own vehicle from there. According to Christal, who was also present at the house, Daignault drove the car with Tinkler in the passenger seat with Hirani behind her and Christal seated in the driver’s side rear.

Christal said he left for the ride, but denied forcing Hirani into the vehicle.

Investigators found the deceased’s blood on both sides of the back seat of the car.

“I’m being honest with you. I never stabbed him, but I held him back,” Christal admitted, after initially insisting he hadn’t made any contact with Hirani.

Daignault pulled Hirani out of the car on the rural road in western Rocky View County after the deceased gave up his banking information, according to Christal.

“He pretty much ripped it off,” he said in the police interview played to the jury.

“And then he started stabbing him and then he’s like [telling me to] get out of the car,” Christal said, adding that the act happened on the side of the vehicle.

Hirani’s credit card was used after his death and money was taken from his bank account.

Christal’s trial continues on Wednesday and is expected to wrap up later this week. He is represented by defense attorney Jim Lutz.

Daignault was due to stand trial in front of a jury in January this year. Proceedings were stalled due to the defendant testing positive for COVID-19 at the Calgary Remand Centre. He is now due to appear in a trial before judge alone next January.