Bombing victim Victoria Shachtay sounded surprised to learn her accounts were empty months after they were closed by her financial advisor, the man on trial for her murder, court heard on Monday.
Testifying at the Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench first-degree murder trial of Brian Malley, Barbara Tblus said she took a phone call in July or August 2011 from Shachtay, who wanted to talk with Malley.
Shachtay was killed on Nov. 25, 2011, when she opened a gift bag, setting off a disguised pipe-bomb.
Malley, 57, was Schachtay’s financial advisor.
Tblus, Malley’s financial assistant, said that when Shachtay called, Malley was on a fishing trip. When Shachtay asked about her account, she sounded surprised when Tblus told her the account was empty.
Testimony earlier in the trial indicated that the account was closed in April 2011. However, Malley continued to make payments to Shachtay up until Oct. 15, 2011.
Money issues have been at the centre of the past week of testimony in the jury trial. The Crown believes Malley killed Shachtay to cut his financial losses. Malley had transferred more than $44,000 over four years to Shachtay from his own accounts.
Malley invested $575,000 of Shachtay’s money from a car crash settlement in 2007. And a $200,000 loan taken out on Shachtay’s behalf was invested. Shachtay, 23, was left paralyzed in the 2004 crash.
Tblus said often Shachtay and other clients would call and ask Malley for help. Shachtay called on a few occasions because her car wouldn’t start.
In her statement to police shortly after Malley’s arrest on May 25, 2012, Tblus said that Shachtay and Malley had set up a schedule of payments. However, Shachtay would call Malley and ask for more money than what she would get in her payment schedule.
On the morning of the bombing, Tblus, Brian Malley and Christine Malley, Brian’s wife, seemed unaware of the incident until they were told by a client that there had been a bombing in Innisfail.
Malley then received a phone call from Rick Bercier, Shachtay’s stepfather. He then told his office that he had been told that Shachtay had been killed.
After Malley’s arrest, Tblus shredded documents. However, she said that shredding could have easily been a regular occurrence.
Defence counsel Bob Aloneissi raised the issue of Tblus being a part of a lawsuit against Malley, her former employer. Malley is facing an $80-million lawsuit from former clients. The claims have not been proven in court.
The trial continues today in Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench before Justice Kirk Sisson and 13 jurors.