A video presented to jurors on Thursday shows bombing victim Victoria Shachtay slumped over in her wheelchair, surrounded by shattered glass that was once her dining room table. A pool of blood to the left of her chair is visible.
The video was taken by a forensics officer and was entered as evidence at the first-degree murder trial of Brian Malley. Malley, a financial advisor, is accused of sending a gift-wrapped bomb to Shachtay, his client.
The Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench trial started on Monday and is expected to take six weeks.
Further testimony from forensic explosives and gunpowder experts indicated that the gunpowder used in the bomb that killed the wheelchair-bound Innisfail mother was similar to gunpowder recovered from the residence of the accused.
Shachtay, 23, was killed on Nov. 25, 2011, when she opened what she believed to be a Christmas present. It was a bomb and she died instantly.
Malley, 57, was Shachtay’s financial advisor. Court has been told he invested more than half a million dollars from a settlement she received from a 2004 car crash that left her paralyzed. By 2011, the money was gone and the Crown claims Malley had made $44,000 in payments to Shachtay from his own pocket.
The video taken by Sgt. Bruce Hamblin, from the RCMP’s Calgary forensic identification section, was edited for legal reasons, said Justice Kirk Sisson. But it showed two RCMP explosive disposal unit members enter Shachtay’s residence, searching for secondary explosive devices.
Shachtay is seen slumped over in her wheelchair.
The bomb disposal officers did not locate any other explosive devices, but did see the impact of the blast: it tore through drywall, shattered the glass dining table, blasted out the dining room window and knocked the shower curtain rod down in another room.
As the first RCMP member on scene, Const. Doug Dewar entered the Shachtay residence and checked on the victim. He testified on Thursday that he grabbed her right wrist and looked for a pulse. Simultaneously, he looked at her chest for signs of breathing. He found neither.
He then attempted to check her pulse on her neck. It was then that he realized what had happened to Shachtay.
He noticed the burn marks in her stomach area, a wound on the left side of her neck and a pool of blood on the floor. Shachtay was no longer bleeding when Dewar inspected her.
He was in the residence for at most five minutes before exiting. He was tasked with guarding the entrance until the Calgary Major Crimes Unit and the Edmonton Explosives Disposal Unit could arrive on scene.
Also testifying on Thursday, Nigel Hearns, a forensic explosives expert, analyzed the small grains of gunpowder left at the scene that were a part of the bomb that killed Shachtay.
A typical improvised explosive device has an excess amount of gunpowder in it, leading to the rapid explosion of the container, he said. That was evident at the scene.
When he entered the residence, he said he immediately saw signs of an explosion.
“Walls were crushed, glass was broken and debris was strewn everywhere,” said Hearns. “It was a mess.”
Small grains of gunpowder were found and subsequently analyzed at the RCMP forensics lab in Ottawa. Hearns compared them with the brand of gunpowder seized from Malley’s residence in May 2012. They were similar, however the gunpowder used in the bomb is a commercially available brand.
Hearns and his colleague Brad Canney noted that while the gunpowder grains found in Malley’s residence and those left partially burned in the explosion are similar, there is no definitive way to say they are from the same batch of gunpowder.
The trial continues today in Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench.