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Vader to remain out on bail

Accused murderer Travis Vader will not have his bail revoked, but will now be subject to additional release conditions.
GR-20160416-SAG0801-304169983-AR
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Accused murderer Travis Vader will not have his bail revoked, but will now be subject to additional release conditions.

Justice Paul Belzil made the decision following a brief hearing Friday afternoon in an Edmonton courtroom that in addition to the existing release conditions, three more would be imposed.

Random police checks of Vader's residence will be allowed once per week, as will random demands for a urine sample to test for drugs. In addition, the condition that no illegal drugs be found in his residence will be imposed on top of the existing condition that Vader not personally be in possession of unlawful drugs.

He is accused of murdering St. Albert couple Lyle and Marie McCann, who were last seen July 3, 2010, en route to B.C. They were never heard from again and their bodies have never been found.

While he has not been in custody during the trial, he is bound by conditions including using a monitoring bracelet on his ankle, abiding by his curfew and appearing in court as required.

Trial judge Justice Denny Thomas called for a bail review Wednesday after Vader arrived more than half an hour late for court for the fourth time, saying someone had borrowed his vehicle and not returned it.

On two previous occasions Vader had cited mechanical problems with various vehicles he was using, and on the third occasion he said he had slept because his alarm clock had come unplugged when he was forced to hastily pack up the hotel room from which he was being evicted.

Belzil heard the review as Thomas noted it would be inappropriate for the trial judge to hear evidence related to the bail application.

Specific evidence discussed during the bail review is subject to a court-ordered publication ban.

Bobbi Jo Vader

Bobbi Jo Vader testified late this week about her brother's drug use and firearms, but the Crown said there were apparent inconsistencies between her testimony and her statements to police in 2010.

Crown prosecutor Ashley Finlayson applied under the Canada Evidence Act to cross-examine her on those inconsistencies – specifically whether she had seen him with guns and whether she had seen him use drugs – which Justice Denny Thomas decided on after a hearing that took all morning.

"The Crown, when we come back at two o'clock, will be allowed to proceed with cross-examination," he said, adding he would give "significant weight" to statements made to police.

In the hearing on that application Friday morning, after three RCMP officers testified hey had taken the statements in question and that the transcripts were accurate, defence lawyer Brian Beresh asked her about the circumstances under which she gave those statements on July 16, Aug. 6 and Sept. 7.

Bobbi Jo Vader told court she was regularly using crack cocaine in the summer of 2010 when she gave those statements, sometimes going three to five days at a time without sleep. She confirmed some of the information she provided to police may have been suggested to her by a friend, which she later repeated to police as fact.

"If you stay up two or three days, you start to hallucinate," she said. "You can see things that aren't there."

She said she sought help for her addiction later in the year, after she had given several statements to police, and told Finlayson she maintains she believes her brother is innocent.

"I do believe my brother's innocent and I will stick up for him any way I can while telling the trith," she said.

When Finlayson played a video of one of the interviews, Bobbi Jo Vader said "I can't even remember that interview."

He played another video, taken Aug. 6, 2010, in which she told police that over the last two years he lost his family, money and possessions.

"He's not the same. When I look into his eyes, he's not there," she said in the video.

Finlayson asked her if she saw any indication she was high during that interview, and she noted she appeared to be struggling to find something to say.

The testimony that prompted Finlayson's application to cross-examine Bobbi Jo Vader came Thursday afternoon, when she told court she believed he may have been using crystal methamphetamines over the preceding few years, but couldn't say for sure.

"I had heard he was doing meth," she said, later discussing a statement he made to police about being a "cook" which she took to mean he was producing the drug. She also said she was unsure about that.

"I've never seen him cook meth, and never seen him use meth, so who knows what he meant by that?" she said.

Bobbi Jo Vader also testified she had seen him driving a Ford F-350 with dual rear wheels, third doors and a red fuel tank in the back – the same description as a vehicle court heard was found partially burned and containing the keys to the McCanns' SUV – but was unclear on whether there had been guns in the back.

"I know there were some guns in the back seat but I didn't see them myself," she said on Thursday, then later altered that statement. "I didn't see them, so I can't say for sure if there were guns there or not."

Finlayson noted in one of her statements to police, she had described carrying a bundle of firearms wrapped in a blanket from the F-350 into a residence.

Her testimony was expected to continue Friday afternoon after the Gazette's print deadline, and if not completed by the end of the day it may continue next week.