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Crown says Winnipeg man’s disappearance was act of financial desperation

Click to play video: 'Closing arguments in manslaughter trial'
Closing arguments in manslaughter trial
A Crown prosecutor urged a jury Tuesday to find an accused killer guilty of robbing and disposing of the body of a man who had shown up for his night shift as a building cleaner – May 3, 2022

A Crown prosecutor urged a jury Tuesday to find an accused killer guilty of robbing and disposing of the body of a man who had shown up for his night shift as a building cleaner.

Kyle Pietz is charged with manslaughter in the presumed death of Eduardo Balaquit, who was 59 when he was last seen on June 4, 2018, working at a business in Winnipeg’s northwest.

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His body has never been found.

“Eduardo Balaquit lost his life for $700,” Crown prosecutor Brent Davidson told a jury during his closing argument.

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Man shot, killed at Sargent Avenue apartment: Winnipeg police

He argued that Pietz was desperate to get cash at the time, as he was jobless, in debt and owed creditors a significant amount of money.

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Court heard Pietz worked at Westcon Equipment and Rentals until early May 2018. Balaquit worked in the same building as a cleaner — a job he had for 22 years.

Weeks before Balaquit’s disappearance, prosecutors alleged Pietz stole $1,700 in cash from a lock box. Shortly after the theft, Pietz stopped showing up for work.

“(The theft) demonstrates the desperate measures (Pietz) would take when he needed cash,” Davidson said.

On the last day Balaquit was seen alive, Davidson said Pietz fielded calls from creditors. He had recently defaulted on payments.

“He had no income coming in and only bills coming out,” Davidson said. “You could almost feel the financial desperation building with each phone call.”

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The Crown said Pietz’s financial situation led him to his former workplace because it was “an easy mark.”

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Court heard that Balaquit showed up for work in the early evening of June 4, 2018. He disarmed the building’s alarm code at 6:05 p.m., and was never seen from or heard from again.

“Balaquit was targeted either personally or as a means to get in that building,” Davidson said.

During the trial, the jury heard that Pietz’s vehicle was seen at the business that night.

The Crown alleges Pietz stole Balaquit’s bank cards and pin numbers, and Balaquit died during the robbery. It’s further alleged that Pietz put Balaquit’s body in his SUV, covered it with boxes and transported it to a rural area outside the city.

Court previously heard that officers found a Post-it note with Balaquit’s pin numbers on it in Pietz’s home.

Balaquit’s accounts were drained of $700.

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His family testified he was a hard-working father whose life was full of consistency and routine.

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Balaquit worked four jobs to help pay to send his sons to private school.

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“Eduardo Balaquit did not choose to disappear,” Davidson told the jury.

The defence was to present its closing arguments Tuesday afternoon.

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