Caregiver warned Shachtay not to open gift bag left at her door

Moments before a wheelchair-bound Innisfail mother was killed in an explosion, her caregiver warned her to not open the Christmas present disguising the bomb.

Moments before a wheelchair-bound Innisfail mother was killed in an explosion, her caregiver warned her to not open the Christmas present disguising the bomb.

Marlene Punongbayan, a trained physiotherapist and careigver for Victoria Shachtay, testified Wednesday in Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench. She warned Shachtay, 23 at the time of her death, not to open a gift bag left on the door step of their Innisfail apartment on the morning of Nov. 25, 2011.

“Don’t open the gift, we don’t know where it came from,” Punongbayan said. “Vicky said ‘no it’s fine.’”

That’s when Shachtay opened the bag and the bomb went off. She died instantly.

Punongbayan was cleaning the kitchen sink adjacent to the dining room table where Shachtay opened the present.

She was facing the sink when she heard the explosion. She turned around and saw Shachtay bleeding. She grabbed her cell phone and ran outside, screaming for help.

Just a day earlier the two celebrated as Punongbayan became a permanent resident.

Shachtay was killed in an explosion. Brian Malley, 57, of Innisfail is on trial in Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench facing a first degree murder charge.

Malley was Shachtay’s financial advisor. As a result of the crash that confined Shachtay to a wheelchair, she received a settlement in 2007. The Crown said she invested $575,000 from the settlement and a $200,000 loan with Malley. By 2011, that money had dried up. Prosecutor Anders Quist said Malley was paying Shachtay out of his own pocket, totalling $44,000 before she was killed.

Punongbayan came to Canada in 2007 and was hired on as Shachtay’s caregiver in May 2008.

On Nov. 24, 2011, the day before the bombing, Punongbayan took a bus at 4 a.m. to Calgary to get her permanent residency.

Upon her return to her home the two celebrated by getting pizza. Shachtay’s daughter had slept over at her uncle’s house as she did not have school on Nov. 24 or 25, 2011.

The next morning, Punongbayan got up at 6:30 a.m. and went through her normal morning routine. Getting Shachtay out of bed and letting the dogs out. As she let the dogs out the front door she noticed a Christmas gift bag on the door step. Shachtay told her to bring it inside and Punongbayan put it on top of the freezer near the door.

The two then went over to Shachtay’s step-father’s house, where they had once lived, and Shachtay had a shower. This was not unusual as her step father’s shower was wheelchair accessible.

While Punongbayan got the shower ready for Shachtay, she over heard a conversation between Shachtay and her step-father. He warned Shachtay to not open the gift bag and to call the police.

The next morning at 3 a.m., Punongbayan awoke remembering a small detail about the gift bag. Remembering a note attached to the bag, she wrote down what she remembered the contents of that note to be. Specifically the misspelling of Shachtay’s first name as Vicktoria.

Punongbayan received her last paycheque from Shachtay on Nov. 15, 2011. She said Shachtay had to call Malley to ensure there were sufficient funds to cover the payment. Under cross examination from defence counsel Bob Aloneissi, Punongbayan said the phone call and conversation was not out of the ordinary.

She also testified, there was never any animosity between Shachtay and Malley and when Punongbayan learned Malley had been arrested she was shocked.

The trial continues Thursday in Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench.

mcrawford@bprda.wpengine.com