Travis Vader hopes that the sentence for two manslaughter convictions will take into account the “cruel and unusual conditions” of his time served in pre-trial custody.
Vader claimed he was physically and verbally abused by corrections officers, and inmates at the Edmonton Remand Centre. He said RCMP mistreated him during his arrest. He spoke Tuesday on the second day of a sentencing hearing expected to run all week.
He claimed inmates threw feces at him and that he was physically assaulted by guards on at least two separate incidents. He also said he was denied his right to legal counsel and subjected to an unlawful strip search by the RCMP.
Vader is seeking a stay in proceedings or reduction of his sentence to time served in relation to these alleged Charter rights violations.
In September, Vader was found guilty of murdering Lyle and Marie McCann, an elderly St. Albert couple, while they were on a road trip to B.C. in summer 2010. The second-degree murder conviction was later downgraded to manslaughter.
Manslaughter carries no minimum sentence. Vader could receive anywhere from time served to life in prison.
Much of Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning were spent listening to audio recordings made by one of the arresting RCMP officers, in an effort to disprove the defense’s claims that Vader was “deliberately and actively” prevented from consulting his lawyer following his arrest in July 2010.
While it took Vader several hours to get a hold of his lawyer, the tapes showed RCMP Const. Steve McQueen making several attempts to contact the names and numbers provided to him by Vader. Vader provided two wrong names before remembering the right one.
Vader claimed Tuesday that he could not recall the name of the lawyer that had been previously contacted by a friend on his behalf due to alleged trauma caused by an alleged public RCMP strip search.
Crown prosecutor Ashley Finlayson also called into question the extent of Vader’s injuries during both alleged assaults at the Edmonton Remand Centre in 2010.
According to a nurse’s report, Vader suffered three superficial abrasions to his right cheek, as well as pain and numbness in his wrists and fingers, as result of the alleged ambush and assault carried out by ERC corrections officers on Oct. 26, 2010.
After playing the audio recording of the disciplinary hearing that took place following the incident – in which Vader makes no mention of being ambushed or of another team punching and kicking him – Finlayson asked why he did not report the bruises on his legs and ribs he allegedly received by stuns and kicks from the guards.
Vader replied that the medical request process was lengthy and complicated and that it did not seem worthwhile. Yet, Finlayson pointed out Vader had followed the request procedure numerous times while in custody, including six times to ask for dandruff shampoo.
“You had no difficulty filling out the Request for Information at that time,” said Finlayson.
Vader told the court that just because the injuries were not reported, it does not mean he did not sustain them.
“I felt every one of those kicks Mr. Finlayson, and I felt the effects for weeks after," said Vader.
Finlayson also told the court that Edmonton Remand Centre had no record of the second incident, which Vader said left him with a broken wrist.
The sentencing hearing is adjourned until Thursday afternoon due to a scheduling conflict. The Crown is expected to wrap up cross-examination, before calling witnesses later this week.