A man who received a mail package addressed to Guido Amsel's ex-wife told a court Friday he joked at the time it might be a bomb.

That same package would be safely detonated by police a day later.

Olexandre Ehrmantraut told court he was working at his Washington Avenue auto repair shop July, 2, 2015, when his mechanic Kevin McKenzie showed him a mail package that had been delivered to the shop with Amsel's ex-wife's name on it.

At or around that time, Iris Amsel had operated an auto garage in a building Ehrmantraut owned across the street.

"We looked at it and the letters looked like chicken scratch," Ehrmantraut said. "We were joking around saying who does that look like wrote this? It looked like a kid's handwriting. [Kevin] said 'Guido.' I said 'totally.' It just made sense. 


Olexandre Ehrmantraut and Kevin McKenzie testified the package had writing that looked like 'chicken scratch,' joking it might be Guido Amsel's writing. (Winnipeg Police Service)

"But why would Guido send Iris a letter? We actually made a bomb joke about the letter ... I grabbed the letter, shook it beside my head, we were throwing this thing, tossing it around as if it were nothing, because really, who thinks?"

'We actually made a bomb joke about the letter ... I grabbed the letter, shook it beside my head, we were throwing this thing, tossing it around as if it were nothing.' - Witness Olexandre Ehrmantraut

McKenzie testified he delivered the package to the other garage to wait for Iris, who was out of town. 

The following day, lawyer Maria Mitousis was seriously injured after an explosive device delivered to her River Avenue law office detonated in her hands. Mitousis was Iris Amsel's divorce lawyer.

Amsel, 51, is charged with five counts of attempted murder and several explosives offences in connection with bomb packages delivered to two law firms and his ex-wife in July 2015 and a December 2013 explosion at his ex-wife's RM of St. Clements home.

Ehrmantraut — who told court he has known Amsel for approximately 15 years — said he and Amsel were still friends at the time he received the suspect package and frequently socialized together.

"We called each other all the time," he said. "If I didn't hear from Guido in a week it was odd. I would call him too because he was one of the smartest people I know."

Ehrmantraut said he received a phone call from Amsel the same day the package was delivered.

"He was just cool as a cucumber, normal, everything was kosher," he said.

Ehrmantraut said Amsel became bitter during his divorce from Iris, and would "rant" about how she had stolen "millions of dollars" from him and was paying off "dirty cops" and "dirty lawyers."

"Everybody was against him at that point in time," Ehrmantraut said. 

During such conversations, Amsel would often be "upset to the point of shaking, mad, very upset," Ehrmantraut said. "It was something you could tell hurt him personally, was the main thing that was dragging him down."

Ehrmantraut said he was aware of a 2013 explosion outside Iris Amsel's home and later asked Guido Amsel about it when they were out target shooting. 

"We were talking about the bomb that blew up the front of the house there and I asked him, 'Hey, did you bomb Iris's house?'" Ehrmantraut said.

"He looked at me, there was no comment, there was no 'yes,' there was no 'no,'" he said. "In further conversations, we were talking and he said 'Do you think [if] people get bombed like that, the second one would miss?'"

The trial resumes Tuesday.