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Charges stayed against Travis Vader in McCann murder

By: Amy Crofts

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Mar 19, 2014 10:13 am

As of Wednesday morning, Crown prosectors stayed charges against Travis Vader in the murder of St. Albert couple Lyle and Marie McCann.
As of Wednesday morning, Crown prosectors stayed charges against Travis Vader in the murder of St. Albert couple Lyle and Marie McCann.
FILE PHOTO/St. Albert Gazette

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Crown prosecutors have stayed the first degree murder charges against Travis Vader, the accused killer of St. Albert couple Lyle and Marie McCann.

The stay of proceedings, which occurred on Wednesday, means the charges are currently put on hold, but the Crown can bring the charges back to court within a year.

"The charges can still go forward," said Michelle Davio spokesperson for Alberta Justice and Solicitor General. "The Crown cannot continue prosecution unless there is opportunity to review all the evidence, especially if there is new evidence from investigators."

The elderly couple went missing in July 2010 on a trip to British Columbia to visit family. Vader was formally charged in April 2012, nearly two years after being named a suspect.

The burnt-out shell of their motorhome was discovered at a campground near Edson a few days after their disappearance. Their bodies have never been found.

Vader was set to stand trial next month after a six-week preliminary hearing scheduled for September 2013 was cancelled by the Crown, a move that requires the written consent of the attorney general.

Vader's lawyer Brian Beresh said he doesn't believe the case would have moved forward if there was a preliminary inquiry.

He said police "unfairly vilified" Vader by indicting him in the public eye.

"They named him as suspect which we say was not based on any reliable evidence. Then when it came time for trial there was no reliable evidence and this was an easy way out for them."

He said the length of time this has stretched out for, nearly four years, speaks to the holes in the prosecution's case.

"If you can't collect evidence in that period of time then there is something extremely wrong with the method of collecting evidence, or there is no evidence," he said.

Last month Vader filed a statement of claim in the Court of Queen's Bench alleging RCMP held him in custody under fraudulent charges in February 2012 to buy them more time to gather evidence for another investigation.

He is now suing several RCMP members and the attorney general of Canada for $150,000. The statement of claim has not been proven in court.

Beresh said if the Crown is using the stay of proceedings as a way to get an adjournment, it would be an "abuse of process."

"Every citizen has the right to trial in a reasonable period of time, now the soonest there could be a trial if anyone recommenced would be a year-and-a-half from now."

"That violates his rights under the (Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms) and the Charter trumps the stay of proceedings."

Michelle Doyle, Crown prosecutor on the case, would not provide comment on why the charges were stayed.

Still missing

Although the McCanns were legally declared dead in July 2011, their bodies have never been found.

"This isn't over. Lyle and Marie McCann are still missing," said a statement released by the RCMP on behalf of the McCann family.

"Though we see this as a delay in our search for justice, our family remains confident that the ongoing investigation will lead to the conclusion of this matter."

Michelle Doyle, Crown prosecutor on the case, would not provide comment on why the charges were stayed.

The investigation into the disappearance of Lyle and Marie McCann is still open and ongoing. Anyone with any information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or the St. Albert RCMP at 780-458-7700. There is a $60,000 reward for information relating to their whereabouts.


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