A seven-week jury trial for a Central Alberta man accused of murder began in Red Deer’s Court of Queen’s Bench on Monday.
Brian Malley, 57, is charged with first-degree murder, causing an explosion of an explosive substance likely to cause serious bodily harm, death or serious damage to property and sending or delivering to a person an explosive device in relation to the death of Victoria Shachtay in 2011.
In court on Monday, Malley pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The charges stem after an explosion occurred inside Shachtay’s Innisfail residence in November 2011. The incident occurred after a package was delivered to the home which RCMP confirmed was the source of the explosion.
Malley was arrested in Red Deer on May 25th, 2012.
Shachtay, 23, was disabled and in a wheelchair from a car collision that happened in 2004. She was also a single mother to a then seven-year-old girl.
RCMP have confirmed Malley, who had worked as a municipal police officer in Alberta more than 30 years ago, had known Shachtay for a number of years and acted as her financial adviser.
Crown Prosecutor Anders Quist and defense lawyer Bob Aloneissi gave their opening addresses to the 13-person jury on Monday.
Quist told the court that Shachtay was a young, single mother and someone built a gun-powdered pipe bomb, put it into a Christmas box, wrote Shachtay’s name on a piece of paper, taped it to the box and placed it on the doorstep of her Innisfail home.
“When Victoria lifted the lid, it exploded and Victoria was instantly killed,” he said. “There was DNA found on the scrap piece of paper that was taped to a piece of cardboard that was consistent with Brian Malley,” he said.
Quist said over the course of the trial the crown intends to call witnesses who will testify that Malley purchased items needed to make the pipe bomb which killed Shachtay – one of those purchases being made the day before Shachtay’s death. He added he will also call witnesses who found the materials used to make a pipe bomb in Malley’s residence.
Quist said after her accident in 2004, Shachtay received a $575,000 settlement and Malley helped her invest it. All of that money was gone in four years. Quist also said after the settlement money was gone, Malley supported Shachtay from his own personal accounts to the tune of $44,000.
“Our theory is that Mr. Malley killed her to cut his losses.”
Aloneissi said the evidence the defense will produce will raise reasonable doubt that Malley was involved in the murder of Shachtay. “Those closest to Victoria Shachtay will raise reasonable doubt that Brian Malley did this,” he said. “This is no ordinary murder but an eventual act of hate for Miss Shachtay or her family members.
“If you look at the puzzle you’ll see that there are missing pieces. A spoiler alert – the DNA that will be called into question in this case is not black and white.”
Aloneissi said the defense will also provide evidence around the dynamic of Shachtay and her family, adding that Shachtay was helping other family members financially including her sister who was a single mother at the time with three children, and another family member who had an addiction problem.
“Brian Malley had no control how Victoria Shachtay spent her money. Those that were close to Miss Shachtay know that she was going broke quick,” said Aloneissi, adding the downturn in the economy in 2008 also contributed to the loss of investments quickly. “The murder had nothing to do with finances.
“We will provide evidence that Brian Malley is a normal person with no addictions and no mental health issues. He did not have any reason to kill Victoria Shachtay.”
Meanwhile, Justice Kirk Sisson told the eight women and five-man jury that only 12 jurors would deliberate once the crown and defense rest their cases.
“I will draw numbers to see who deliberates, but only 12 of you will deliberate,” he said, adding he wanted to ensure the trial moved forward in speaking to his decision to have 13 jurors during proceedings.
The trial continues this week.