KAMLOOPS – The man who confessed to an undercover officer posing as a crime boss said he embellished some of his facts to convince him he was was a trustworthy employee of a false criminal organization.
Robert Donald Balbar is on trial for the second-degree murder of his girlfriend Heather Hamill. After Crown wrapped its case Friday afternoon, Balbar took the stand Monday morning to share his side of the events which culminated in Hamill’s death and led to an undercover RCMP sting.
Earlier in the trial, Crown introduced a recorded confession Balbar made to an undercover police officer posing as a crime boss in 2007. The recorded confession came after Balbar befriended an undercover officer and worked for him before the friend suggested he confess his criminal past to the boss in order to earn his trust.
Balbar told the court Hamill did not threaten to go to police, nor did he use three different hammers to attack her as he stated in the confession to the crime boss.
"I just wanted the boss to think that I could handle myself," Balbar said. "I wanted to impress the boss."
Information that could identify any undercover officers cannot be published by law.
At the time Balbar met the officer, he said he was receiving a very limited government cheque - most of which went towards purchasing meth. The officer gave him some odd jobs with steady pay but Balbar said once he noticed the officer threatening others with violence, he became nervous.
"I didn't really want anything to do with it," he said. "He told me he was a hitman. I was under the impression they were mafia or something. I knew he told me way too much stuff about him to let me walk away."
One evening on an overnight trip Balbar took with the officer, he said he panicked and jumped out of his hotel window to try and leave, but returned when he was called for another job.
In the morning session, court heard Balbar relay the events of Hamill's death. He said he killed her to defend himself and his son.
“I thought she was going to kill me,” Balbar said. “I didn’t want anybody to die.”
Balbar said Hamill threatened his sleeping son with a long machete she grabbed out of his closet. He said when she arrived at the apartment she was drunk, high on methamphetamine and acting violent.
“She was by the side of the bed,” he said. “Making poking gestures... like she was ready to hit my son with (the machete).... I’ve never had my son in that kind of predicament.” Balbar said.
He said he ran to his nearby toolbox, grabbed a hammer and proceeded to try and hit the machete out of Hamill’s hand. The two went in circles around the living room, tripping on various items strewn about the one-bedroom apartment, Balbar said.
“She was trying to take my head off with it,” he said. “I just flailed the hammer as hard as I could... I don't know exactly how many times I hit her. I fell back and she fell on my legs.”
Balbar said he then hit Hamill two more times to “make sure.” When he confirmed Hamill was dead, Balbar said he put her body in a long camping cooler along with bed sheets he used to clean the apartment. He then waited for day to break so he could call his mother to come pick up his son.
After his mother collected his son, Balbar said he went to sleep, but woke up when people arrived at his house.
Balbar said when he awoke he hoped Hamill’s death was a dream.
“I was just hoping that it didn’t really happen,” he said.
Court heard Balbar later dumped Hamill's body in the Thompson River after receiving a ride out to the Kamloops Indian Reserve where he stored the cooler. Balbar said he returned later on at night to bury Hamill, but panicked and decided to cast her body into the river.
Prior to questioning Balbar, his lawyer introduced a toxicology report to show Hamill had methamphetamine in her system before her death.
Balbar's evidence will continue Tuesday morning.
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