TORONTO, Ont. – Anthony Koko Chang and Kimnarine Keshan Maharaj were perfect strangers before their worlds collided during a minor traffic accident last Tuesday. A week later, Maharaj, 24, was charged in Chang’s murder.
Police said Chang, 62, was riding a scooter on Mt. Pleasant Road near Roehampton Avenue on September 10, when he was involved in minor collision with a pickup truck driven by Maharaj, a seasonal worker with Mt. Pleasant cemetery.
Chang suffered minor injuries and his scooter was damaged. But instead of calling police and their insurance companies, the two men agreed to settle the matter without alerting authorities, and exchanged personal information, police said Tuesday.
Last Thursday, September 12, two days after their crash, Chang was found gravely wounded inside his North York apartment on Francine Drive, near Leslie Street and Steeles Avenue East.
He died later in hospital and was declared the city’s 41st murder victim of the year.
At a news conference Tuesday, Det. Kate Beveridge said Chang was stabbed multiple times and announced that Maharaj was arrested on Monday and faces second-degree murder in the death.
“An agreement to settle this collision outside of an insurance claim was made, and everybody went on their way,” Det. Beveridge told reporters.
Beveridge said the men remained in contact following the traffic accident, and on Thursday morning Maharaj visited Chang at his home to discuss payment for damages to his scooter.
Police said the men had agreed to a settlement of about $1,040.
“Obviously it was a violent encounter and Mr. Chang is believed to have been screaming, or screaming for help,” Beveridge alleged.
“This encounter escalated and concluded in the violent death of Mr. Chang.”
Police said Chang was well known in the local Buddhist community and was self-employed with immigrations services at Pearson airport. Neighbours described him as a very peaceful, spiritual, family man who always wanted to help others and do the right thing.
Beveridge said Maharaj was at fault in the traffic accident, and Chang was trying to do him a favour by not reporting the incident.
“This time it cost him his life,” she said.
Maharaj, who was born in Trinidad and has been living in Toronto for about six years, made a court appearance on Tuesday morning.
Beveridge said he wasn’t known to police prior to his arrest in Chang’s murder.
Police are asking anyone with information to contact them or Crime Stoppers.