Close to 16 months after a financial advisor’s arrest in the bombing death of a former client, defence offered to provide investigators with a pipe that police believed to be the murder weapon.
Brian Malley, 57, is accused of first-degree murder in the death of Victoria Shachtay, 23, on Nov. 25, 2011. She was killed when a pipe bomb disguised as a Christmas gift detonated as she opened it in her Innisfail home.
Testifying at Malley’s jury trial on Thursday in Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench, the primary investigator on the file, RCMP Cpl. Kanwardeep Dehill, said he was approached by defence counsel Bob Aloneissi on Sept. 25, 2013.
He paraphrased the conversation, but said essentially that Aloneissi asked him “What if I could tell you what happened to the pipe?”
In May 2014, a pipe matching the description of that used in the bomb was dug up from the residence of Francis Poelzer, Malley’s mother-in-law.
Concrete had been poured at that residence in October 2013 and the defence has said the pipe was used to protect the natural gas line.
Malley purchased a pipe — a six-inch-long, two-inch-wide galvanized steel nipple, or pipe with threading at both ends — in July 2011 from a Rona hardware store near Poelzer’s home. At the time, he only purchase one end cap. Police were only aware of him ever purchasing one end cap.
The pipe that was recovered from Poelzer’s backyard had two end caps.
That piece of evidence was held by Don Christal, a private investigator hired by the defence, until September 2014 when it was handed over to Dehill and taken in RCMP custody.
Court also heard on Thursday how much scrutiny Malley was under following his arrest.
Police received judicial approval to run a cellmate operation, where they send an undercover police officer to gain information.
As well, police obtained ex parte authorization to intercept private conversations.
Malley’s cellphone and landline were wire-tapped and his vehicles were bugged. Poelzer’s residence was also bugged and her landline was tapped.
Malley had been staying with Poelzer after his release from the Red Deer Remand Centre.
A court order for Assante Wealth Management financial documents came under scrutiny by Aloneissi. It specified looking for financial records identifying Shachtay, but with her first name Victoria spelled with a K. Shachtay’s caregiver Marlene Punongbayan testified that she recalled seeing “Vicktoria” written on the note attached to the Christmas gift pipe bomb left on her doorstep.
In the Assante documentation shown in court, Shachtay’s first name is referred to as Vicky.
The Crown believes Malley killed Shachtay to cut his financial losses. Shachtay invested more than $575,000, a car crash settlement, with Malley in 2007. By April 2011, it was gone. From 2007 to Oct. 15, 2011, Malley paid Shachtay $44,000 out of his own account. Malley was an Assante representative.