Sentencing for 'chair girl' put over until next month

Marcella Zoia leaves a Toronto court on Friday, Nov. 15, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

The sentencing hearing for a 20-year-old woman who threw a chair off a downtown Toronto highrise balcony over a busy highway last year has been put over.

Marcella Zoia arrived at a Toronto courthouse on Tuesday morning dressed in all black expecting to learn her fate, but an argument presented by the Crown has delayed that.

Zoia pleaded guilty to mischief endangering life back in November 2019 in connection with the February incident that was caught on camera and shared widely online.

The video showed the woman launch a chair off the balcony over the traffic-heavy highway.

No injuries were reported in the incident.

Following the mass-circulation of the video, investigators with the Toronto Police Service urged the woman to come forward and identify herself.

Zoia turned herself in to officials a few days later.

On Tuesday, during the start of the sentencing hearing, the Crown, Heather Keating, argued that Zoia posted the video to her Snapchat account, but the young woman maintains that she did not post the content to that social media application herself.

“What I can indicate is that the Crown specifically states she posted the video to Snapchat – my client is firm that she did not post the video to Snapchat,” Zoia’s lawyer Gregory Leslie told reporters outside of the courthouse on Tuesday.

“That is my position. That is our position. That is all I will say at this time.”

Keating is now anticipating cross-examining another witness on the matter, which Leslie said could play into the sentence Zoia receives.

“You have to remember that it is the Crown’s onus – the Crown has to prove this, it’s up to the Crown,” he said. “If they prove it then that’s an aggravating factor that will go before the judge but if the Crown cannot prove that beyond a reasonable doubt then it errs to our benefit.”

The sentencing hearing is expected to return to Old City Hall on Feb. 7.

Crown is seeking jail time

Keating is asking for Zoia to serve up to six months in jail, but Leslie is calling for a suspended sentence.

A suspended sentence, according to Leslie, would include Zoia being put on probation with undetermined conditions for an unknown period of time.

Zoia has been out on bail since February 2019, with conditions she live with her mother, refrain from contact with the four other individuals named in the incident and stay away from the Maple Leaf Square Condos, where the incident took place.

“My client is very anxious,” Leslie said. “She was under stress, she was distraught last night. She is having a difficult time.”

“She absolutely wants this to be over with – there is no issue about that. The last thing she wanted to do was to have this adjourned but at the same time she is not going to admit to something that she did not do.”

Leslie added that jail time would be ‘detrimental’ to his client’s mental health.

Zoia continues to work as a model

Following Zoia’s guilty plea on Nov. 15, Leslie told reporters she was “remorseful.”

“This was the first step – I think this was a necessary step, her guilty plea – that does show that she is remorseful for her actions,” he said outside the Toronto courthouse at the time.

Leslie went on to say that his client has “learned and matured” from the matter.

In March 2019, Leslie told reporters that Zoia had been expelled from the dental hygiene program she was previously enrolled in and called it “unfortunate,” but “a hard lesson.”

Leslie confirmed Zoia had not been allowed to return to school while speaking after her guilty plea and said she “models when the opportunity presents itself.”

Zoia made a quick cameo in Drake’s music video last month, which generated major media coverage. The Toronto rapper then had her removed entirely, saying “certain people we don’t condone.”

On Tuesday, Leslie said Drake’s decision to remove his client was “inappropriate.”

“She was in a Drake video for what, 1.7 seconds, without any speaking. She happened to be there on a dance floor. I think it was inappropriate and it was unnecessary for Drake to remove her – he did so.”