A jury trial got underway Monday for the Winnipeg man charged with manslaughter in the 2018 disappearance of Eduardo Balaquit.
Balaquit was last seen on June 4, 2018, when he left home to go to his cleaning job at a business on Keewatin Street.
His van was later found at the business with a smashed window and his belongings still inside.
Balaquit’s body has never been found.
In 2021, nearly three years after his disappearance, Winnipeg police announced Kyle Alexander James Pietz, 35, had been arrested in Saskatoon and charged with manslaughter in connection with the homicide and disappearance of Balaquit.
He has pleaded not guilty to the charge.
The 14-person jury heard the Crown’s opening arguments Monday morning.
The Crown argued the is case about a man driven by desperation that ultimately cost Balaquit his life.
Crown attorney Vanessa Gama argued Pietz was in financial desperation and robbed Balaquit and ended up killing him in the process.
The jury heard that Pietz worked at Westcon Equipment & Rentals on Keewatin Street when a break-in occurred in April 2018 after Pietz had finished a shift there.
The Crown said $1,700 was stolen from the petty cash box and Pietz’s fingerprint was on a pamphlet used to jimmy the lock into the building.
Pietz stopped working there shortly after and hit “financial rock bottom”, the Crown said.
Balaquit, whom the Crown described as a family man, ran his own cleaning company and regularly cleaned at Westcon. Balaquit was a father of two and had been married for 30 years.
The court heard that on June 4, 2018, Balaquit went to do a shift at Westcon and it was the last anyone saw of him. The Crown alleged Pietz had been seen circling the building earlier that day.
The Crown said Winnipeg police followed a trail left by Pietz, which included a random trip to the Arborg area and back. Balaquit’s debit card was also used at an ATM in a 7-11 on Ellice Street, court heard.
Eduardo Balaquit’s two sons, Edward Balaquit and Edwin Balaquit, also took the stand Monday.
The court heard that Eduardo was a hard-working man who ran a janitorial company on weekday evenings and DJ’d on the weekends, on top of working a Monday-to-Friday job.
Despite a busy working schedule, Edward said his father always made time for family and events, and never missed a birthday.
Edwin said his father always came to his baseball games and said he would sometimes help his father with his janitorial business. He last saw and spoke to his father on June 4, the day of his disappearance.
Eduardo’s wife, Iluminada Baliquit, also testified Monday. She described how difficult Eduardo’s disappearance has been for the entire family.
“My heart is always breaking,” she said.
The trial is expected to last six weeks.