Closing arguments begin for Travis Vader sentencing hearing

Click to play video: 'Judge rejects part of Vader’s claim his rights were violated'
Judge rejects part of Vader’s claim his rights were violated
WATCH ABOVE: At Travis Vader's sentencing hearing Tuesday, a judge dismissed an application from Vader claiming his rights were violated with an unlawful strip search. Fletcher Kent has the latest on the man who killed Lyle and Marie McCann – Jan 3, 2017

The sentencing hearing for Travis Vader, convicted of killing two missing Alberta seniors, resumed Tuesday.

Crown and defence lawyers presented closing arguments in the case after finishing calling witnesses in December.

Vader was in the courtroom Tuesday morning, where the defence summarized accusations that Vader had suffered mistreatment, including a right to counsel violation, excessive force, poor pre-trial conditions and a bad strip search.

“They should’ve closed the door. They shouldn’t have had video cameras in the room and they shouldn’t have made him remove all his clothes at once,” defence lawyer Nate Whitling said.

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Whitling cited Supreme Court cases, saying police must do a strip search in private and pieces of clothing are supposed to be returned after they’re removed to ensure the person is never completely naked.

READ MORE: ‘Our loss is huge’: Bret McCann’s victim impact statement at Travis Vader sentencing hearing

The Crown said police conducted Vader’s strip search appropriately as police needed to seize Vader’s clothing and search for weapons.

Late Tuesday morning, Justice Denny Thomas dismissed Vader’s Charter application that his rights were violated by the strip search.

Thomas said written reasons for his decision would come later but pointed out that Vader claimed he was humiliated as he stood naked for five minutes while people walked past his open cell. A video revealed it was actually 30 seconds and no one passed by.

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“Some of these incidents, of course, are just Mr. Vader’s version – and there’s some credibility issues here,” Thomas said.

He also questioned why it took Vader so long to complain about the strip search.

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The defence then argued that Vader’s right to access counsel was violated.

Whitling told the court Vader’s rights were violated when he wasn’t allowed to meet his lawyer in private because Mounties refused to leave the room.

The Crown said the lawyer was only there to tell Vader that he was no longer representing him.

The defence is responsible for proving on a balance of probabilities that violations happened for a successful Charter challenge.

Vader was found guilty of manslaughter in the 2010 deaths of Lyle and Marie McCann.

The McCanns, in their late 70s, disappeared in 2010 while on a road trip to British Columbia. Their bodies have never been found.

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A judge ruled that Vader was a desperate drug addict who came across the McCanns in their motorhome and killed them during a robbery.

READ MORE: Bret McCann calls for changes to Criminal Code following Travis Vader verdict

In September, Justice Denny Thomas found Vader guilty of second-degree murder in the deaths. However, Thomas erred in his ruling and by using Section 230 of the Criminal Code, which the Supreme Court declared unconstitutional in 1990. The government didn’t remove the section from the books, as antiquated laws are rarely repealed.

READ MORE: Travis Vader verdict: what is Section 230 of the Criminal Code?

Vader’s legal team applied for a mistrial. On Oct. 31, Thomas denied the mistrial application and instead convicted Vader of manslaughter in the elderly couple’s deaths.

The Crown wants a life sentence while the defence wants four to six years and, because of alleged mistreatment while in custody, suggests it should be reduced to time served.

-With files from The Canadian Press.


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