EDMONTON – During an abuse of process hearing Tuesday, Travis Vader’s lawyer alleged the Crown Prosecutor stayed charges against his client to buy more time to build the murder case.
Vader was first charged with murder two years after the disappearance of Lyle and Marie McCann from St. Albert.
Defence lawyer Brian Beresh questioned the Chief Crown Michelle Doyle, saying there were no bodies, no proof of cause of death and – “at best” – they had a circumstantial case.
Beresh also said the only potential evidence against Vader was from a “jail house rat.”
The McCanns’ bodies were never found, but Doyle told court “there was evidence that tended to suggest the cause of death.”
One month before the trial was set to begin, the Crown asked for a stay and the Chief Crown Prosecutor said RCMP hadn’t handed over all the documents, calling it a “disclosure fiasco.”
Doyle told court she was concerned Vader would not get a fair trial due to the “dislcosure fiasco” and told court she never told RCMP if and when she intended to take the case back to court.
However, an email from an RCMP member stated the stay was due, in part, to disclosure issues and the Crown wanted to bring those charges back to court as soon as possible, something Doyle denied.
In an email dated March 21, 2014, a Const. wrote: “We cannot stress the urgency enough. The charges were stayed yesterday due, in part, to disclosure issues. The crown would like to bring the charges back to court ASAP.”
Doyle will be back later in the week for the Defence to continue its questioning.
Court also heard Tuesday just how complex this investigation was. An RCMP member said it was four times more complex than other murder cases.
There were approximately 1,400 tips from the public. Sgt Frederick Jané said the media attention on the McCanns’ disappearance generated a lot of interest.
Jané said most of the tips RCMP received were just “feelings” or “rumours,” but they all still had to be followed up on.
The stay of charges against Vader was lifted in 2014. He’s scheduled to return to trial in March.
Lyle and Marie’s son Bret sat in court for the proceeding on Tuesday, along with his daughter.
With files from Global’s Kendra Slugoski