Innisfail financial advisor Brian Malley was convicted of first-degree murder in the “cold-blooded” killing of a young quadriplegic single mother on Tuesday.
An eight-woman and four-man jury spent about six hours deliberating before returning their guilty verdict, which carries an automatic sentence of life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years.
Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Kirk Sisson also sentenced Malley to two years each, to be served concurrently, for charges of causing an explosion and sending an explosive.
Malley, 57, who was dressed in dark suit and tie, showed no emotion when the verdict was delivered shortly before 9 p.m. He quietly replied “no” when the judge asked him if he wanted to say anything. Malley’s wife and daughter watched from the front row.
Victoria Shachtay, 23, was killed instantly when she triggered a pipe bomb disguised as a Christmas present that had been left on her doorstep on Nov. 25, 2011.
Victor Shachtay, 64, the victim’s father, said the verdict was a “big weight off my shoulders.”
He was joined in the courtroom by three of her brothers and several other family supporters.
Shachtay said Victoria was a young mother who doted on her daughter.
“She faced all that life threw at her and she tackled it. She was a happy person. She was happy to be alive and to have a daughter.”
Victoria was paralyzed in a car crash in 2004, when she was 16 and pregnant with her daughter Destiny.
“She coped with everything. She didn’t feel sorry for herself, or whine and cry.”
Asked if he wished Malley, who had been a family friend, had said something following the verdict, Shachtay said, “I don’t care about him. He’s gone. I’ll never have to worry about that man again.
“He’s not on the streets killing other people.”
The conviction brings to a close a five-week trial that saw Crown prosecutors painstakingly pursue a case built almost entirely on circumstantial evidence.
Outside court, Crown prosecutor Anders Quist said DNA evidence, the tracking down of pipe bomb components in Malley’s possession and the uncovering of a troubled financial history between him and his client were important components of the case.
The Crown argued that Malley killed Shachtay because she was a difficult client who was becoming a financial drain. A $575,000 settlement, plus other money, she had invested with him ran out because of his high-risk investing, and her spending and expenses.
She was murdered to “cut his losses” and was particularly cold blooded.
“The evidence shows him having worked on this bomb from July of 2011 to November 25, 2011. To carefully and methodically put those pieces over that time with the intent to kill, that’s pretty cold,” Quist said outside the courtroom.
Malley’s defence lawyer was not available for comment after the trial, but Quist anticipates an appeal.
“We always expect an appeal in a murder case,” he said.
The defence had argued that the police had tunnel vision as they pursued their investigation of his client and all of the bomb components could be explained away by his hunting hobby and experience as a home builder.
Victoria’s brother Vincent read a moving victim impact statement in court before sentencing.
He spoke of the family’s disbelief and shock on hearing of her death the day she died.
Destiny will never be able to share with her mother experiences like her first crush and kiss, her high school graduation, sweet 16, or first job.
“Those are special moments Destiny will never have.”
Losing a daughter has been especially hard on her father and has changed him.
“He is now the shell of that man. He is broken.”
Malley’s crime has extended far beyond the Shachtay family, he said.
“You have forever changed a small town.”