Deliberations begin in jury trial for suspect accused in Winnipeg man’s disappearance

Eduardo Balaquit is shown in this undated handout photo. The jury has started deliberations in the trial for man accused of killing Balaquit during a robbery in Winnipeg. Balaquit disappeared in June 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Winnipeg Police Service

The jury at the trial of a Winnipeg man accused of killing a fellow worker whose body has never been found has started deliberations after receiving instructions from the judge in the case Wednesday.

Kyle Pietz is charged with manslaughter in the presumed death of Eduardo Balaquit, who was last seen on June 4th, 2018.

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The Crown has argued that financial desperation led Pietz to kill Balaquit, rob him and dispose of his body.

Defence lawyers say evidence presented during the month-long trial only proves theft.

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

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

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

The Crown alleges Pietz stole Balaquit’s bank cards and personal identification numbers (PIN), 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.

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

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Balaquit’s accounts were drained of $700.

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Balaquit’s family testified he was a hard-working father whose life was full of consistency and routine. His disappearance was completely out of character.

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

–With files from William Reimer

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