Manitoba

Amsel trial hears details of deadly blast

The trial of accused letter bomber Guido Amsel heard testimony Wednesday about the immediate aftermath of a July 3, 2015, explosion at a River Avenue law firm that seriously injured one of its lawyers.

River Avenue explosion seriously injured lawyer Maria Mitousis

Amsel was convicted on four charges of attempted murder in plot that targeted ex-wife, maimed lawyer (CBC)

The trial of accused letter bomber Guido Amsel heard testimony Wednesday about the immediate aftermath of a July 3, 2015, explosion at a River Avenue law firm that seriously injured one of its lawyers.

Connie Petersen, managing partner at the Petersen King law firm, said she was in her office reading some e-mails when she heard a loud bang followed by screaming.

Petersen ran down a smoke-filled hallway toward Maria Mitousis's office.

Police found digital recorders during search of Guido Amsel's home, bombing suspect's trial hears

"Maria was walking out of her office, put her arms around her abdomen and slid down the door frame so that she was kneeling on the floor," Petersen testified.

Petersen looked into Mitousis's office and saw that her window had shattered.

"My first thought was that somebody shot through the window," she said. 

Another staff member was on the phone to 911 and was told to evacuate the building, Petersen said.

"Maria looked at me and said 'don't leave me, please comfort me,'" Petersen said.

"There was a lot of blood coming from her throat," she said. "I put a hand over her neck and my right arm over her arms that were holding her abdomen."

Petersen stayed with Mitousis until police arrived, saying "it seemed like an eternity," and then evacuated the building.

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Legal assistant Karlee Kaplan testified a mail package that prosecutors allege contained the bomb was delivered a day earlier when Mitousis was not in the office. Kaplan left the package on Mitousis's desk.

Kaplan said the address on the package was handwritten. The package appeared to be personal, and had her former law firm as a return address, she said.

"It wasn't unusual to receive something from there," she said. "I thought it was personal so I didn't open it."

Court has heard testimony the bomb was housed in a digital recorder that detonated when Mitousis pressed "play." Mitousis ultimately lost her right hand as a result of the explosion.

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

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dean Pritchard

Court reporter

A reporter for over 20 years, CBC Manitoba's Dean Pritchard has covered the court beat since 1999, both in the Brandon region and Winnipeg. He can be contacted at dean.pritchard@cbc.ca.

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