Travis Vader has been found guilty in the deaths of Lyle and Marie McCann. He was charged with first-degree murder, but Justice Thomas concluded the evidence didn’t support those charges. Vader has been found guilty of two counts of second-degree murder.
LISTEN: Verdict is read in Travis Vader trial (full decision below)
Justice Denny Thomas delivered a shortened version of his decision in a packed Edmonton courtroom Thursday morning. The full decision is over 68,000 words and is available online.
“We think that it’s an error that in this case the court didn’t reconstruct what occurred but simply, from our quick review of it, appeared to have said, ‘this must have happened,'” defence lawyer Brian Beresh told media after the verdict. “There will be an appeal based upon what we think are errors in the judgement.”
“We’re certainly pleased with the decision,” Crown Prosecutor Ashley Finlayson told reporters outside court. “It’s a great decision at the end of a very long and difficult case. At the end of the day we’re very, very happy for the McCanns.”
The McCanns were last seen gassing up their RV to head out on vacation the morning of July 3, 2010. Their burned RV was found at a campground southeast of Edson a few days later. The SUV it had been towing was found east of the town several days after that.
The Crown’s theory suggested that Vader and the McCanns crossed paths sometime on that day, leading Vader to rob the coupole. Finlayson likened the pieces of evidence to a puzzle.
“You have what may seem like a fairly innocuous piece of evidence that formed one piece of the puzzle and if that one piece wasn’t there, then it affected the whole picture or the whole puzzle. It was very important that each little bit of evidence was accepted.”
Justice Thomas did accept each piece of Crown evidence as fact.
The McCann’s son, Bret McCann, delivered a prepared statement to media after the verdict. He spoke of the love his parents had, saying they were robbed of their golden years. He also had an apology to issue to them, after leading the search for his lost parents for so long.
“I’m sorry, Mom and Dad, I can do no more,” he said. “I hope that someday, somehow, you will be found.”
The bodies of Lyle and Marie McCann have never been found. Their son isn’t holding out anymore that they ever will be.
“We don’t know exactly what happened on that afternoon of July 3, 2010 and we probably never will. The convicted person would have to talk, and we’re not optimistic that that will happen.”
Vader, 44, was named as a person of interest early in the case, but wasn’t formally charged until April of 2012. In May 2014 the charges against him were stayed, only to be reinstated before the end of the year.
Justice Denny Thomas granted Beresh’s request for time to figure out how to proceed. They will be back in court October 3, 2016. (kb)
LISTEN: Justice Denny Thomas full verdict in the Travis Vader case
LISTEN: Crown Prosecutor Ashley Finlayson speaks to media
LISTEN: Defence Lawyer Brian Beresh speaks to media
LISTEN: Bret McCann speaks to media