A Nassau County judge on Friday sentenced a Baldwin man convicted in the death of a Pit Stop station manager he ran over while trying to avoid paying for $22 worth of gas to 25 years to life in prison.
A Nassau County jury convicted Joshua Roston, 38, on Oct. 27 of second-degree murder, two counts of first-degree robbery, second-degree manslaughter and other charges in the death of gas station manager Cemal “John” Dagdeviren, 59. Nassau District Attorney Anne Donnelly called Dagdeviren’s death “one of the most senseless cases I have ever seen in my career as a prosecutor.”
“When Joshua Roston decided to come in and pump $22 worth of gas into his car, and then refused to pay for it, Cemal paid with his life,” Donnelly said at a news conference after acting State Supreme Court Justice Meryl Berkowitz sentenced Roston.
Dagdeviren’s widow and sons told Berkowitz during Friday’s sentencing that his death has left the family joyless and devastated.
Appearing later on Friday with Donnelly at the news conference, they described Dagdeviren as a kindhearted man and a hardworking immigrant who moved his family from Turkey to the United States in 1996 to provide his children with a better life.
“This is a very tough time, without him,” said son Ceyhun Dagdeviren, an FDNY firefighter. “Seeing my mom have to go through all that, my brother, myself, it has caused a lot of anguish, it has caused a lot of sadness.”
Roston expressed remorse to Dagdeviren’s family and said his death was an accident.
“I apologize wholeheartedly for the role I played in this situation,” Roston said.
He also claimed he has been mistreated by the criminal justice system for years and by Berkowitz during his trial, but the judge pushed back on his claims that he is a victim.
“You blamed the deceased for his own death,” she said. “It boggles the mind.”
Roston’s attorney, Joseph Lo Piccolo of Garden City, said his client will appeal the conviction.
He said police seized documents from his Nassau jail cell in June of 2021, shortly before Roston’s trial was originally slated to begin. Those documents, in Roston’s cell because the defendant could not meet with his lawyer during COVID-19 precautions, included a summary of what Roston would testify at trial.
“That will be a major issue for appeal, among other issues which are there,” Lo Piccolo said. “It will be horrible for this (the Dagdeviren) family when they have to come back here in two to three years for another trial, and I certainly expect that will happen.”
Nassau prosecutors said Roston stopped at the Pit Stop on Grand Avenue in North Baldwin on Jan. 14, 2019, and asked an attendant to fill the tank of his black GMC SUV. Roston told the attendant he was going to pay for the gas with a credit card inside the store, but once inside, he said he preferred to get money from an ATM instead. Dagdeviren, who had just arrived for work and took over for the attendant, told Roston that there was an ATM across the street, at another gas station.
Dagdeviren and Roston left the store together, but instead of going to the ATM, prosecutor said, Roston got into his SUV. Roston backed up the GMC, slightly touching Dagdeviren, who then walked to the front of the vehicle. The gas station manager knocked on the driver’s window and then grabbed the windshield wiper, according to prosecutors and surveillance video that captured the incident. At that point, Dagdeviren was standing directly in front of the SUV, looking through the windshield at Roston.
Roston rolled the SUV forward and then quickly accelerated, running over Dagdeviren. Roston fled to Pennsylvania and surrendered to police in Philadelphia on Jan. 18, 2019.
“It is one of the most horrific videos I have ever seen,” Donnelly said.