'Chair girl' pleads guilty to mischief endangering life
TORONTO – A 19-year-old woman who threw a chair off a downtown Toronto high-rise balcony over a busy highway earlier this year has pleaded guilty to mischief endangering life.
Marcella Zoia arrived at Old City Hall through a back entrance just before 10 a.m. on Friday wearing all black and large sunglasses.
She then entered a courtroom and pleaded guilty to a February incident that was caught on camera and shared widely online.
The video showed a young woman launch a chair off a balcony over a busy highway.
Following the mass-circulation of the video, Toronto police urged the woman to come forward and identify herself.
A few days later, Zoia turned herself in to officials.
She was subsequently charged with mischief endangering life, mischief endangering property under $5,000 and common nuisance.
Following her guilty plea to the one charge on Friday morning, her lawyer Gregory Leslie told reporters the young woman 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.
“We could have gone to trial, in fact there were issues that allowed us to go to trial but the video is the video so based on that she entered a plea of guilty.”
When asked what “issues” he was referring to, Leslie said he could not comment further.
Her lawyer confirmed that the two additional charges she was facing will be dropped at a later date.
Leslie said his client has “learned and matured” from this matter.
“She is a young lady who made a mistake,” he said. “When you deal with persons her age we look at, one of the possibilities, or one of the factors that the judge has to examine is the issue of rehabilitation and she is, in my opinion, already a changed woman and she will be doing much better.”
Crown is seeking jail time
Leslie said the Crown is asking for Zoia to serve jail time, but he thinks this is a step too far.
“Of course it’s a possibility,” he said. “It’s anywhere between a suspended sentence, which we want, to up to six months in jail.”
“She understands that’s a possibility.”
According to Leslie, a suspended sentence would include Zoia being put on probation with undetermined conditions for an unknown period of time.
Leslie said his client is suffering from anxiety “as a result of this.”
“When anybody is facing jail time, especially a young lady like this, she understands the severity and the consequences of what she has done.”
Not allowed to return to school
Back in March, Leslie told reporters that his client had been expelled from the dental hygiene program she was previously enrolled in.
At the time, Leslie called the expulsion “unfortunate,” but added that it was “a hard lesson.”
On Friday, Leslie confirmed Zoia has not been allowed to return to school since then and said she is currently not working.
“There was a job opportunity that she had and a decision was made not to proceed with that,” he said outside of the courthouse. “Right now she does modelling when the opportunity presents itself.”
“She was doing modeling before this and she has had contracts since this. If you are asking me if those contracts were a result of this case, I honestly have no idea.”
A sentencing hearing in the case is expected to take place on Jan. 14.