Staff in Edmonton’s former chief Crown prosecutor’s office felt “betrayed” by the RCMP as piles of disclosure continued to arrive in the weeks before Travis Vader’s scheduled murder trial.
Stella Aloneissi-Hatoum, who worked as a paralegal in the office under Michelle Doyle, testified Thursday that Doyle and other staff members grew increasingly frustrated as more information was disclosed.
“(We felt) betrayed by them telling us disclosure was complete, and every couple weeks or months we received a new (hard) drive that had disclosure on it,” she said while being cross-examined by Vader’s lawyer Brian Beresh.
The cross-examination was part of an abuse-of-process hearing that began Nov. 30. Beresh has argued the murder charges against Vader were stayed prior to his scheduled trial in April 2014 as a way to give the Crown and RCMP more time to build a case against him.
The charges were revived, and a trial is now scheduled to begin this March. Beresh is asking Justice Denny Thomas to grant a defence motion to stay the charges a second time.
His cross-examination of Aloneissi-Hatoum was focused almost entirely on photocopies of Aloneissi-Hatoum’s own written notes from meetings with Doyle and RCMP officers involved in the investigation. Beresh repeatedly questioned her on notes he suggested had to do with conversation about gathering further evidence against Vader and preparing for the trial, even after the charges were stayed.
There was some confusion as to timelines, however, as she said she believed the pages were out of order and regardless, the notes were only ever meant for personal use in creating her own “to-do lists.”
Doyle testified during the initial four days that she chose to stay the charges because she was concerned about Vader’s access to a fair trial, and the defence wouldn’t agree to postpone the trial.
Vader is charged with murder in the deaths of St. Albert couple Lyle and Marie McCann, who went missing in 2010 on a road trip to B.C. to visit family. They were last seen buying gas July 3, and the burned out shell of their motorhome was found near Edson a few days later.
They were declared legally dead in July 2011, and Vader was charged roughly two years later, with the trial initially scheduled for April 2014 until prosecutors stayed the charges.
Aloneissi-Hatoum was the only one to take the stand Thursday. Doyle was expected to again testify, but near the end of the day it became apparent there would not be time. The hearing is scheduled to continue this Tuesday, Dec. 15.