Neighbours of an Innisfail wheelchair-bound mother killed in an explosion told court on Tuesday of their shock when the bomb went off.
Linda Braun was just sitting down in her house, taking a break from renovations, and Evan Schielke was on the porch of his apartment getting ready for work when the blast occurred.
They testified at the murder trial of Brian Malley, 57, on Tuesday.
Victoria Shachtay, 23, was killed on Nov. 25, 2011, when a bomb disguised as a Christmas present went off in her apartment.
Malley, an Innisfail financial advisor and home builder, is charged with first-degree murder in her death. His trial before a jury in Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench started on Monday.
Schielke said the explosion sounded like a loud bang similar to a shotgun or rifle being fired.
A volunteer firefighter with emergency medical technician training, he ran toward Shachtay’s apartment and called 911. When he got to her apartment, Shachtay’s caregiver was standing in the doorway.
“The caregiver was screaming, shaking, crying. She was hysterical,” testified Schielke. The caregiver asked Schielke to go inside and see what happened.
Schielke picked up the caregiver and moved her out of the way since she was blocking the doorway.
Once inside the apartment, he found Shachtay in the dining area. She had blood on her head and black marks on her face, and there was blood on the floor. She was slumped back and to the left in her wheelchair.
He checked for signs of breathing or a pulse, but concluded she was dead.
Braun testified she also ran toward Shachtay’s apartment when she heard the blast.
Braun went inside the apartment and saw Shachtay and believed her to be dead. She said she reached this conclusion because Shachtay’s head was at a strange angle and her eyes were open. Braun then went outside to comfort Shachtay’s caregiver.
“I didn’t really notice anything other than the fact she was dead,” Braun said.
A few weeks prior, Braun had noticed a man standing at the stop sign in front of her house. She testified the man was taking pictures of the apartment, but could not give more of a description of the person she saw.
RCMP Cpl. Dan Gyonyor also testified on Tuesday. He said tire imprints found at the scene may have a link to Malley. Although it was not definitive, Gyonyor said they could neither rule out nor say with absolute certainty that the tire imprint found near the apartment matched a Honda Civic owned by Malley.
Gyonyor wrapped up his second day of testimony. As the scene photographer, he detailed items that were seized as evidence. Then in his role as a member of the Red Deer RCMP forensic identification unit, he detailed what forensic evidence they recovered from the scene.
That evidence included a piece that was part of the package containing the bomb that he said “stood out.” It stood out because it had cardboard, paper, tape and felt all together. It was tested for DNA evidence.
Shachtay was paralyzed in a 2004 crash. In 2007, she received a settlement and invested $575,000 of the settlement along with a $200,000 loan through Malley. By 2011, the money was gone, court was told on Monday.
The trial resumes this morning in Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench.