A judge found Shawn Wruck guilty of second-degree murder on Friday in connection with the death of his girlfriend – Shannon Collins – whose remains were discovered on a rural property east of Edmonton almost a decade ago.
While Wruck was charged with first-degree murder, the judge found him guilty of the lesser charge because she said prior planning could not be proven.
Collins’ remains were discovered on a property in Strathcona County in 2008.
On Friday, the judge told an Edmonton court she believed Wruck strangled Collins.
“I’m pretty darn happy,” Maureen Collins, the victim’s mother, said. “I’m emotional. I’m a basket case but it’s just been a tremendous day for us all. ”
To make its case against Wruck, the Crown was given permission to use evidence gathered against him through a controversial law enforcement tactic known as a Mr. Big Sting.
Watch below: On June 30, 2016, Kendra Slugoski filed this report on Shawn Wruck’s murder trial.
Over the course of a five-month investigation, the sting saw the RCMP convince Wruck he was part of a crime ring during which time he confessed to killing Collins by strangling her then dumping her body.
Dubbed Project Kolumbo, the operation saw undercover officers develop scenarios to gain Wruck’s trust beginning in November 2012, in which they led him to believe they were members of a gang. At one point, the RCMP staged a kidnapping and Wruck watched when one of the so-called criminals stuck a gun in a woman’s mouth. Wruck was also taken to a retirement party to show he could leave the criminal organization without any consequences.
In March 2013, a then 39-year-old Wruck was given a face-to-face meeting with a “Mr. Big,” or the fictitious leader of the gang he presumed he was becoming a part of. An undercover officer testified Wruck told Mr. Big about the murder from “start to finish” in an Edmonton industrial area.
On Friday, the judge said it did not concern her that Wruck’s confessions came to undercover officers during a Mr. Big sting.
The judge added she believed Wruck lied in interviews to try and distance himself from the case.
Towards the end of the Mr. Big Sting, undercover officers asked Wruck for the Rubbermaid container that he told them he used to store Collins’ body for several days before disposing of it.
After that, Wruck sent panicked text messages to the officers denying any involvement in Collins’ death.
Both the Crown and judge said they believed that was because he caught on to the sting at that point.
“The verdict was definitely surprising and disappointing but we are definitely contemplating an appeal,” defence lawyer Ajay Juneja said. “We believe the decision was completely and entirely wrong.
“The confession provided by Mr. Wruck in the Mr. Big operation was clearly and entirely false. There’s a plethora of credible evidence that contradicts this confession and we don’t think it should have been accepted.”
“They’re fullsome, detailed confessions that are corroborated by the physical evidence at the scene,” prosecutor Jim Stewart said.
Wruck’s lawyers asked the judge not to have their client into custody until sentencing. Wruck had been out on bail since June 2013.
The Crown said he should be taken into custody immediately as he is not presumed innocent any longer.
The judge revoked bail for Wruck.
More to come…
-With files from Sarah Kraus and Kendra Slugoski.