Jury trial begins for triple-murder suspect

Victims Terry Blanchette and his daughter Hailey Dunbar-Blanchette are shown in this photo from Blanchette’s Facebook page.A southern Alberta man accused of killing three people including a father and his daughter is to face a seven-week trial before a judge and jury. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Facebook-Terry Blanchette

LETHBRIDGE — A triple-murder trial began Wednesday with the Crown telling court the suspect confessed to police that he killed all three victims: a father and daughter and a senior.

Derek Saretzky is charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of Terry Blanchette, who was 27, two-year-old Hailey Dunbar-Blanchette and 69-year-old Hanne Meketech.

The Crown said in its opening statement that Saretzky had inside knowledge of the deaths in September 2015.

“He provided details to the police that only the killer would know,” prosecutor Photini Papadatou told the jury Wednesday.

Jurors also heard that Saretzky took police to a remote area where the girl’s remains were found in a firepit.

Saretzky, 24, is also charged with committing an indignity to the girl’s body.

He has pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

Papadatou said the case started as two separate investigations: one into the death of Meketech and one into Blanchette’s slaying.

His daughter was missing when his body was discovered in his home in Blairmore, Alta., and RCMP quickly realized they needed more help in an all-out effort to find Hailey alive, the prosecutor said.

An Amber Alert that extended across Western Canada and into the United States was issued, but the child was found dead a few days later.

Papadatou said Saretzky’s family came forward to help.

“These are good and decent people,” she told the jury.

She added the accused’s father, Larry Sartezky, “will tell you about things his son said to him that led to his son’s arrest.”

The Crown is expected to call just over 30 witnesses and enter 38 exhibits as evidence.

Saretzky was arrested in the Crowsnest Pass area of southwestern Alberta after Blanchette’s father found his son’s body. He had been trying to contact his son for hours and finally found him dead in the bathroom of his house in a pool of blood.

Police have said Saretzky and Blanchette were acquaintances, but have not elaborated on how the two men knew each other.

The little girl’s mother has described Saretzky as an old friend whom she hadn’t spoken to in years.

The trial is expected to last several weeks.

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