WINNIPEG – A man accused of killing a Manitoba woman eight years ago laughed in front of the victim’s family as he tried to plead guilty to second-degree murder Monday.
Traigo Andretti is already serving a life-sentence for killing and dismembering his wife in British Columbia. He was charged in the Winnipeg murder while in jail in B.C., and was brought back to the Manitoba capital in June to face charges of killing Myrna Letandre in 2006.
Andretti, 38, tried to plead guilty last month, but he was given a month to reconsider hiring a lawyer. Andretti refused to meet with a lawyer several times and on Monday told Judge Tim Preston he understands the case against him.
“I’ll be pleading,” Andretti mumbled.
The judge would not accept Andretti’s plea as it was not before the proper court. He is scheduled to formally enter a plea Sept. 10.
Letandre’s sister sobbed, with her head in her hands, as Andretti smirked and laughed while his case was discussed.
“This is serious business,” Preston said to him. “I know you’re laughing. I’m not quite sure why.”
Letandre, who was 37 and originally from Pinaymootang (Fairford) First Nation, was reported missing by her sister in 2006. Letandre’s remains weren’t found in a Winnipeg rooming house until May 2013.
Police said she was in a relationship with Andretti, also known as Dylan Harold Grubb, before she vanished. They said Andretti was questioned at the time of Letandre’s disappearance.
Relatives in court Monday said they were too shaken to talk, but handed out a statement. In it, they said Letandre was a loving woman who had “dreams and hopes for the future.” They said they tried to tell police about Andretti at the time of Letandre’s disappearance.
“Yet our reports weren’t taken seriously. We were ignored, made to feel less than and why? Because we are Anishnabe women and our voice and our status in this society is not honoured, respected or protected.”
Andretti was given a mandatory life sentence with no chance of parole for at least 25 years in April after admitting to the first-degree murder of his wife, Jennifer McPherson, who was also a longtime Winnipeg resident.
Police discovered the scattered remains of McPherson on a remote island near Alert Bay, off the east coast of Vancouver Island, last spring. The couple had been living there as caretakers of a remote fishing resort called the Pacific Outback Resort.
“If we had been listened to, then her life would have been spared,” the family said in their statement. “The justice system, the police is responsible for the loss of another life. We did our best to have this man talked to, investigated but despite our numerous pleas, nothing – absolutely nothing – was done.”
Andretti was arrested following an investigation by Project Devote, a unit made up of RCMP and Winnipeg police officers. Police said they worked with Vancouver’s homicide unit, but waited for them to complete their investigation before bringing their own charges.