EDMONTON – Travis Vader’s lawyer is arguing murder charges against Vader should be dropped because of the prosecution’s handling of a case that even the crown prosecutor calls a “disclosure fiasco.”
Vader is accused of first-degree murder in the deaths of Lyle and Marie McCann of St. Albert. The couple, both in their 70s, disappeared in July of 2010, while on their way to British Columbia. Their burned out motorhome was found west of Edmonton a short time later, but their bodies have not been found.
While Vader was named as a person of interest later that month, the legal case against him has been dragging on for years.
He was first charged with the murders in 2012, and scheduled for trial in April of 2014. The crown stayed those charges just weeks before the jury selection was to begin, only to revive the case nine months later.
In a brief filed with the Court of Queen’s Bench, the crown explains why the charges were stayed.
The document describes how the search for a single text message, just four months before the trial, led to the discovery of thousands of pages of evidence which had never been disclosed to either the crown or the defence.
It goes on to say that just a month before the trial, disclosure was still not complete, and Crown Prosecutor Michelle Doyle elected to stay the charges, because she had “effectively lost confidence in the RCMP getting full disclosure to her in a timely manner.”
“Simply put,” it reads, “given the disclosure situation that existed on March 19, 2014, Ms. Doyle did not believe it was in the public interest to proceed with a prosecution that could very well unfairly convict Mr. Vader.”
Vader’s lawyer Brian Beresh argues the delay was intentional in order to provide the prosecution with two additional years to prepare and investigate before the trial, which was an abuse of process by the Crown.
For its part, the Crown admits Vader’s Charter rights have been “clearly breached by the delay,” but it says the case should continue, despite “the egregious disclosure mess,” because of the serious nature of the charges, and the interest of society in seeing the case go to trial.
Beresh will question the RCMP and chief Crown Prosecutor Doyle in court this week about their handling of the case.
Vader is currently scheduled to stand trial in March 2016.
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