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Crown’s case against Vader draws to a close

With just two days left in which the Crown will present its case against accused murderer Travis Vader, there are few witnesses left to testify – and no more key witnesses.

With just two days left in which the Crown will present its case against accused murderer Travis Vader, there are few witnesses left to testify – and no more key witnesses.

Court heard Monday morning from the RCMP officer who pulled data from the cellphone identified as Vader’s, and also from a civilian member who produced a modified phone record for that phone.

Sgt. Jeffrey Cameron testified that in 2010-11 he was in charge of the Technological Crime Units in both Edmonton and Calgary, a role that involves reviewing files, assigning work and reviewing the work of others.

He said that on Feb. 9, 2011, he handled the phone that has been identified as Vader’s, pulling several pieces of data from it.

“It was in very poor condition,” he said. “The back was missing which covers the battery, and there was black tape holding the battery in place.”

Through the use of commercially available software, Cameron said he was able to pull a contact list and call logs stored on the phone, as well as some – but not all – of the text messages associated with the phone.

“Either there never was any outgoing text messages, or the user of this phone deleted the messages and I was unable to extract them,” he said.

Contact lists on the phone include several of Vader’s associates, who have been referred to in this trial.

Cameron said he also reviewed work done by David Lussier, a civilian member of the department, who testified he had extracted data from the phone identified as belonging to Lyle McCann.

Both phones were entered into evidence as full exhibits.

Vader is accused of killing elderly St. Albert couple Lyle and Marie McCann on July 3, 2010, while they were reportedly en route to British Columbia for a vacation.

The second witness to testify Monday was Shawna Lemiski, a civilian working with the RCMP. She spoke very briefly of the work she did in manipulating a spreadsheet provided by Virgin Mobile with records of Vader’s phone.

She said she manipulated the data to make it easier for investigators to read it, but did not make any substantial changes to what was in the report.

“I only sorted it by date and time,” she said. “I changed no other content.”

Those modified phone records were also entered as full exhibits in the proceedings.

The remainder of Monday morning was spent discussing several outstanding applications and when decisions might be coming on those issues. Monday afternoon is expected to include testimony from an RCMP member who transcribed wiretaps played in court last week, plus further arguments and decisions on some “housekeeping” applications.

Friday afternoon was spent with defence lawyer Brian Beresh’s associate Nathan Whitling arguing the applications on behalf of the defence. There are four outstanding issues.

First is whether hearsay from Marie McCann, as reported by several witnesses, is admissible in terms of establishing the McCanns’ intended destination on July 3.

Second is the admissibility of statements Bobbi Jo Vader made to police in 2010, as some of her testimony contradicted those statements.

Third is the admissibility of text messages attributed to Vader, and the truth of the contents of those messages.

Fourth is the admissibility of statements made by Vader’s ex-girlfriend Andrea Saddleback-Sexsmith. Defence is arguing her testimony is inconsistent with her statements, and were fabricated after she learned the extent of that of which he is accused.

Justice Denny Thomas noted he may be prepared to issue decisions on some of those outstanding issues Monday afternoon, and the remainder likely on Tuesday.

Defence lawyer Brian Beresh said he expects to begin presenting his case “Wednesday or Thursday.” He has previously told court he hopes to present his case in four days, but given the ever-lengthening timelines in this trial that could take longer than expected.