EDMONTON – A judge is expected to deliver a verdict Thursday in the first-degree murder trial of Travis Vader. Vader, 44, has pleaded not guilty in the deaths of Lyle and Marie McCann, an Alberta couple in their late 70s who vanished shortly after they left on a camping trip six years ago. Their bodies have never been found.
Here’s a look at the case:
— The McCanns were last seen fuelling up their motorhome in their hometown of St. Albert, north of Edmonton, on July 3, 2010. They were towing their SUV behind the motorhome.
— A friend testified Vader was broke but showed up with cash and driving an SUV that matched the one owned by the couple on July 3.
— That same day, several calls and text messages were sent to Vader’s former girlfriend from the McCanns’s cellphone. Phone records show the phone was used in the general area of Edson, where the couple’s burned-out motorhome was later found.
— The keys to the couple’s SUV were eventually discovered in the bed of a stolen, burned-out truck that a witness said Vader had been driving.
— DNA matching Vader’s was found in the couple’s SUV and his fingerprint was on a can of beer in the vehicle. The beer was the same brand Vader had been seen drinking earlier.
— Lyle McCann’s ball cap was found with a bullet hole and stained with his blood. DNA found on the hat matched Vader’s, although the match was less certain than that of the DNA found in the SUV.
— Vader did not testify, but his lawyer, Brian Beresh, argued there’s no real proof the McCanns are dead and no murder weapon has been found.
— Beresh also said there’s no proof it was Vader who used the couple’s cellphone and the DNA evidence is sketchy.
— The defence lawyer suggested that witnesses lied about seeing Vader driving the couple’s SUV and that the keys to the vehicle could have been planted in the burned truck by police, since the keys were found long after the truck was initially discovered.