Scroll down to read the court of appeal decision in full.
On Jan. 25, 2017, Travis Vader was found guilty of two counts of second-degree murder, but Justice Denny Thomas cited Section 230 of the Criminal Code in his decision.
Portions of Section 230 were ruled unconstitutional more than 25 years ago. Vader was subsequently found guilty of manslaughter and was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for seven years.
Last year, defence lawyers asked the appeal court to order a stay of proceedings or a new trial on the grounds that there were a number of errors in the original one.
Court documents explain Vader’s lawyers appealed the conviction because the judge’s “decision to substitute two verdicts of guilty of manslaughter was contrary to the functus officio doctrine.”
Grounds for appeal also included several other issues with the judge substituting the two verdicts for manslaughter.
The documents said the judge also “erred in dismissing the appellant’s application for a stay of proceedings” without the benefit of the Jordan Decision and without anticipating further delays.
Watch below (Jan. 26, 2017): As Vader plans appeal, McCann family calls for Criminal Code changes
In its written decision, filed May 17, 2019, the court of appeal dismissed Vader’s appeal.
The decision explains, in part, that “although not expressly addressed, the trial judge’s reasons implicitly establish that he was not satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that the killings were intentional; that he was only prepared to find the appellant “in one manner or another, caused the death of Lyle and Marie McCann.
“While it may have been better had the trial judge expressly found the appellant did not possess one the intents to kill referred to in Section 229, his failure to do so did not prejudice the appellant and the omission was not fatal.
“Based on the facts as he found them, the trial judge was ultimately correct in convicting the appellant of manslaughter.
“In conclusion, we see no prejudice having befallen the appellant as a consequence of the trial judge’s analysis, and no benefit in a retrial to test again whether the appellant should have been convicted of manslaughter, in the robbery killing of the McCanns.”
The McCanns were last seen July 3, 2010, filling up their motorhome at a gas station before a trip to British Columbia. Their burned out motorhome was found on July 16 near Peers, Alta.
It’s not known how the couple was killed. Their bodies have never been found.