Killer of missing Alberta seniors loses appeal of manslaughter convictions

EDMONTON — An appeal from the killer of two Edmonton-area seniors has been dismissed.

Travis Vader asked the Alberta Court of Appeal for a new trial or for his manslaughter charges to be stayed.

Vader was sentenced in 2017 to life in prison for the deaths of Lyle and Marie McCann, who vanished in 2010 while setting out on a camping trip.

His lawyers argued the trial judge should have dismissed his case because it took so long to work its way through the court system.

The lawyers also said the judge made errors and showed bias when he substituted the lesser offence of manslaughter for two second-degree murder verdicts.

Three Appeal judges agreed that a reasonable person would think Vader was treated fairly at trial.

“We see no prejudice having befallen the appellant as a consequence of the trial judge’s analysis, and no benefit in a retrial to test again whether the appellant should have been convicted of manslaughter in the robbery killing of the McCanns,” the judges wrote in a unanimous decision released Friday.

During the trial in 2016, Vader was described as a desperate drug addict who came across the McCanns and killed them during a robbery.

Court heard the couple’s burned-out motorhome and a vehicle they had been towing were discovered in the days after they disappeared. Their bodies have never been found.

Vader was charged with first-degree murder in 2012. The charges against were stayed in March 2014 but were reinstated a few months later.

Vader had sought to have the charges thrown out on the grounds his constitutional right to a speedy trial was violated. Justice Denny Thomas dismissed the application six months before a landmark 2016 Supreme Court of Canada decision that set limits on how long cases should take in court.

The Jordan decision says cases should take 18 months in provincial courts and 30 months in superior courts, with some exceptions. It included a provision for cases already underway at the time of the ruling, such as Vader’s.

The Appeal Court said it took 58 months from when Vader was charged until he was sentenced. But they said the delay was justified, given the unusual nature of the case.

“The complexity of this case, including the difficulties associated with prosecuting a murder trial ‘without a body,’ though not a full answer, was a significant factor in justifying the delay,” the judges said in their decision.

“In conclusion, although the trial took substantially longer to complete than the 30-month presumptive ceiling, we think that in light of the extraordinary circumstances of this case, the delay was not unreasonable and that the appellant’s submission must fail.”

The defence had argued the RCMP was negligent in the handling of disclosure in the trial, which added two years of delay to the prosecution.

The lawyers also noted Thomas mistakenly used an outdated section of the Criminal Code to initially convict Vader of second-degree murder. He later substituted the verdict with manslaughter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A message from the Advocate publisher

In good times and bad, The Red Deer Advocate has been here… Continue reading

Red Deer shelters ready to help homeless during pandemic

“This is the time for families to come together”

Red Deer first responders thank health care workers, wish 3-year-old boy happy birthday

First responders made a Red Deer boy’s birthday wish come true and… Continue reading

Red Deer man injured in Riverside Meadows shooting

Police are continuing to investigate

WATCH: Firefighters, RCMP help Red Deer boy celebrate 3rd birthday

Firefighters and RCMP officers helped a Red Deer boy celebrate his third… Continue reading

Alberta Health Services provides COVID-19 prevention tips

Alberta Health Services has a number of recommendations for people amid the… Continue reading

Alberta government website has latest COVID-19 statistics

Red Deer Advocate readers can stay up to date on the COVID-19… Continue reading

There’s no reason MPs couldn’t have rejected pay hike

Parliament members donating raises to charity runs shallow, and to suggest nothing… Continue reading

Fiscal transparency would help

Way back before the COVID-19 crisis came upon us, the federal government… Continue reading

A message from Waskasoo Medical Clinic

A Message From Waskasoo Medical Clinic Waskasoo Medical Clinic (including our walk-in… Continue reading

UPDATE: Anti-tax group calls for MPs, senators to donate scheduled pay raises to charity

Bill C-30, adopted 15 years ago, mandates the salary and allowance increases each calendar year

Michael Dawe: Public projects often play a role in creating jobs during tough times

At the end of October 1929, the New York stock market collapsed… Continue reading

Sylvan Lake photographer captures family life from the front steps

Deb McNeil is taking porch portraits to share the uniqueness of families during COVID-19

Most Read