LETHBRIDGE — The Crown in the triple-murder trial of a southern Alberta man told a jury they should find Derek Saretzky guilty because he confessed to police and that confession is supported by evidence.
But Saretzky’s lawyer reminded them his client is innocent until proven guilty and the prosecution has to prove every aspect of the case.
“It’s the Crown’s job not only to prove the accused did the crime they’re accused of but also all elements of the offences,” Patrick Edgerton told the jury.
Saretzky, 24, is facing three counts of first-degree murder in the September 2015 deaths of Terry Blanchette, his two-year-old daughter Hailey Dunbar-Blanchette and 69-year-old Hanne Meketech five days earlier.
Saretzky is also charged with committing an indignity to Hailey’s body. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Edgerton told the jury the investigation into Meketech’s death wasn’t perfect and questions remain about the night the senior was killed. He also suggested Saretzky was pushed into confessing to her death after spending a tough six months in custody, charged with the killing of the father and daughter.
“I would suggest these are the words of somebody who has sort of given up,” Edgerton said.
It’s up to the jury to decide whether Saretzky’s confessions to killing Blanchette and his little girl are reliable, he said.
Crown prosecutor Photini Papadatou told the jury Saretzky’s confessions included details only the killer would know, such as what happened to Hailey and how Meketech died.
“How can you be satisfied that this man, Derek Saretzky, killed each of these people?” Papadatou said. “One, he told you that he did it.”
Papadatou urged the jury to believe what Saretzky had told police even though people sometimes confess to crimes they didn’t commit.
“How do we know it’s true that he killed her after confessing to it?” Papadatou asked.
“He says ‘I can take you to the body’… and that’s what he does. He takes them to the body.”
During the trial, the jury watched a video where Saretzky took police to the campsite where Hailey’s body was found and re-enacted choking her to death, cannibalizing and dismembering her before throwing her remains in a firepit.
“You’ve seen the video. It is chilling. You’ve heard the evidence. It is disturbing,” she said. “I am asking you to return a verdict on first-degree murder in relation to each of the victims.”
Court heard Saretzky tell police he killed Meketech — a friend of his grandparents — on the spur of the moment and because he “didn’t think anybody cared about her.” The jury heard he kicked in the door of her mobile home and bludgeoned her to death before stabbing her in the throat.
The Crown called it a trial run. After Meketech was killed, Papadatou said Saretzky had five days to think about what he had done before he killed Blanchette and kidnapped Hailey.
“He had time to pause, to reflect,” she said. “Having thought this through, he decided to do it again.”
The killings all occurred in the small close-knit region known as the Crowsnest Pass in southwestern Alberta.
Saretzky knew all three victims, as well as Hailey’s mother, Cheyenne Dunbar, who he claimed to have dated. Dunbar testified that they were only friends.
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Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press