April 13, 2016 - 4:30 PM
EDMONTON - A judge will review bail conditions for a man who has been late four times for his murder trial in the deaths of two Alberta seniors.
A lawyer for Travis Vader told court Wednesday morning that his client was a half-hour behind because a vehicle he was using was "borrowed by someone else and not returned."
"I apologize," Brian Beresh told the court.
Vader has been tardy three times before — he twice told court he had vehicle trouble and once said he slept in.
Justice Denny Thomas warned Vader last week not to be late again.
Thomas ordered Vader to appear later Wednesday before another judge for the bail review. Justice Paul Belzil heard some evidence on the bail issue, under a publication ban, then put over the review until Friday.
Vader, 44, has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the deaths of Lyle and Marie McCann, great-grandparents in their late 70s, who vanished while on a camping trip in July 2010.
They were last seen fuelling up their motorhome in their hometown of St. Albert, a bedroom community north of Edmonton, as they headed out to British Columbia.
Two days later their motorhome was found burning in the bush west of Edmonton. The SUV they had been towing was later found hidden in some trees on a nearby rural property.
Their bodies have never been found.
The Crown is arguing that Vader was a desperate drug user on the run from police on other charges, living in a makeshift camp in the area, when he came across the McCanns and killed them.
The defence has suggested there's not enough evidence to prove the couple is dead and that police should have looked at other suspects.
The trial, now in its sixth week, heard Wednesday from Vader's former girlfriend Amber Williams. She and Vader "constantly" did methampethamine together, even sold it sometimes, but broke up in late June 2010, she said.
Williams testified that Vader sent her phone texts from an unknown number on the afternoon of July 3, the day the McCanns were last seen. Court previously heard the unknown number was that of the seniors' cellphone.
Under cross-examination, Williams said she can't be certain Vader sent the messages since she didn't actually see him do it. She also said he usually signed off using "Travis," although one of the messages from the McCanns' phone ended with just "t."
Crown experts earlier testified that DNA matching Vader's was found in the couple's SUV in four places: a can of Boxer beer, a blood smear on the vehicle's centre console, the steering wheel and in blood on a passenger seat.
DNA found on a ball cap that had Lyle McCann's blood on it was also matched to Vader's, but with less certainty. Blood from Marie McCann was found on cans of food in the back of the vehicle.
Vader's defence has tried to poke holes in the DNA evidence, suggesting that sneezing into a vehicle or onto items might be enough to transfer DNA.
One witness has also testified that he saw Vader driving the couple's SUV around the time they disappeared.
Police have said they found the SUV's keys in a pickup truck allegedly stolen by Vader.
News from © The Canadian Press, 2016