Edmonton

Judge to rule today on whether Travis Vader killed Alberta seniors Lyle and Marie McCann

A Court of Queen's Bench judge is expected to deliver his decision on Thursday morning in the double-murder trial of Travis Vader, who is accused of killing St. Albert seniors Lyle and Marie McCann in July 2010.

The judge's decision will be live streamed on CBC Edmonton's website and Facebook page

Travis Vader has pleaded not guilty to killing Alberta seniors Lyle and Marie McCann. A judge is expected to make a ruling on his guilt or innocence Thursday morning. (CBC)

Travis Vader is expected to learn his fate today when Alberta Court of Queen's Bench Justice Denny Thomas delivers his decision on whether or not he's guilty in the murders of Lyle and Marie McCann.

The judge's 131-page ruling will bring to an end a trial that began more than six months ago, and close a chapter in a mystery that began more than six years ago.

The McCanns were last seen on July 3, 2010, when they left their St. Albert, Alta., home to travel to B.C.

The seniors were reported missing several days later, when they failed to meet their daughter in B.C. 

Their bodies have never been found, but the couple's burning motorhome was discovered near Edson, Alta., and the SUV they were towing was eventually found abandoned nearby.

Vader, 44, a former drug addict with a long record of petty crimes, was soon named a suspect in the case. But it took almost two years for the RCMP to formally charge him with two counts of first-degree murder. Vader has, from the outset, insisted he is innocent.

The case took years to wind through the courts before the trial finally started in March.

Prosecutors believe Vader — who is originally from Niton Junction, Alta., but had no fixed address at the time of his arrest — killed the McCanns on July 3, 2010, just hours after they started their trip to B.C.

In closing arguments, the Crown said the couple likely died sometime between noon and 2:14 p.m., when evidence shows Vader used the McCanns' cellphone to contact his then girlfriend. 

Vader insists he has been the subject of a police "witch hunt" and has filed a $1-million lawsuit against the RCMP for wrongful prosecution.

During the trial, the Crown submitted DNA evidence the prosecution insists ties Vader to the SUV the McCanns were travelling in.

Defence lawyer Brian Beresh argued the DNA evidence is not enough to convict his client of murder. He said it shows Vader had some "incidental contact" with the vehicle, and suggested he could have leaned into the SUV and sneezed or been in contact with someone who later got into the SUV.

Earlier this week, the judge ruled he will allow a camera to be present in the courtroom to record his decision for media outlets.

A live stream of Thursday's ruling will be available at 10 a.m. MT on the CBC Edmonton website or CBC Edmonton Facebook page.