Brian Malley found guilty of 1st-degree murder in death of Victoria Shachtay
Victoria Shachtay was killed in her Innisfail home by a pipe-bomb disguised as a gift
A central Alberta financial adviser has been found guilty of first-degree murder for killing his disabled client with a pipe bomb disguised as a Christmas present.
A jury convicted Brian Malley, 57, on Tuesday night in the death of Victoria Shachtay. Malley was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for at least 25 years.
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The 23-year-old single mother died in her wheelchair when she opened a gift bag that had been left on her doorstep in Innisfail, Alta., in 2011.
A jury heard evidence over the five-week trial that included how Shachtay entrusted more than half a million dollars she had been awarded in a car crash to Malley, who was a family friend.
However, the court was told he had lost it all and was continuing her payments by using his own money.
The Crown argued he killed her to cut his losses, but the defence countered that Malley was simply a generous guy.
"There's an easier way to cut your losses — you just stop paying," defence lawyer Bob Aloneissi told the jury in his closing address.
"Mr. Malley is being prosecuted because he cares for people, in this case, a single mom in a wheelchair."
Shachtay was paralyzed in a car crash in 2004 when she was 16 and pregnant. Three years later, she received a court settlement of $575,000 and Malley convinced her to take out a loan for another $264,000 to bump up her investment fund.
Crown prosecutor Anders Quist reminded the jury that although some of the money was lost due to drops in the market, Malley also put some of her funds in high-risk investments.
He said Malley had called Shachtay "a pain in the ass" and described her as stubborn and lazy because she spent too much money and wouldn't get a job.
DNA consistent with Malley's was found on a piece of paper and tape in the bomb debris, although it was not conclusive.
Other evidence showed Malley owned or purchased some of the same parts used to make the bomb — a piece of galvanized steel pipe, gunpowder, end cap, light switch, lantern battery and tiny light bulbs.