Jurors will soon deliberate the fate of Derek Saretzky, the man accused of three murders in two neighbouring small towns in southern Alberta.
Court of Queen’s Bench Justice William Tilleman will deliver his final instructions to jurors on how to apply the law to their deliberations. Afterwards, the panel will be sequestered until a verdict is reached, but before that happens two people from the 14-member jury will be randomly selected to be excused.
The law only allows for 12 people to deliberate. Fourteen sat through the evidence in order to protect against a mistrial in the event several jurors had to be excused for various reasons such as illness or a death in the family.
Saretzky has pleaded not guilty to three counts of first-degree murder and a charge of performing an indignity to a body.
Hanne Meketech, 69, was a former neighbour of Saretzky’s. Jurors watched a video where Saretzky confessed to police that he broke into her home around midnight on Sept. 9, 2015, and fatally attacked her, first with a baseball bat and then a knife. Saretzky said Meketech was his first kill and that he chose her because he didn’t believe anyone would miss her.
Five days later, on Sept. 14, 2015, Terry Blanchette’s bloodied body was found in the bathroom of his Blairmore, Alta., home and his two-year-old daughter Hailey Dunbar-Blanchette was missing. Saretzky, 24, confessed to bludgeoning Blanchette in his bed with a crowbar and then slitting the throat of the 27-year-old before stealing the sleeping toddler from her crib upstairs.
In another video, Saretzky took investigators to a campsite that belongs to his relatives, about 20 minutes away from the Blanchette home. He re-enacted the killing of the girl and described dismembering her body and performing acts of cannibalism on the toddler before burning her remains.
Saretzky told police he had feelings for Cheyenne Dunbar, Hailey’s mother and Blanchette’s ex-girlfriend and said he wasn’t aware she was no longer living with her daughter.
In the firepit ashes, police recovered hundreds of bone and tooth fragments belonging to a child. Hailey’s blood was also found on a toy and in a metal pot nearby and on a pair of boots seized from Saretzky’s apartment.
In his closing arguments on Monday, defence lawyer Patrick Edgerton asked jurors to focus their deliberations on the Meketech homicide. There were flaws, he said, in both the evidence and confession.
For instance, Edgerton said the officer who interviewed Saretzky was “pushing him to give answers” with the accused often just agreeing with the investigator rather than offering details.
Edgerton also said while his client’s confessions to the Blanchette homicides were full of details, there were few when he spoke of Meketech, and Saretzky even got some details wrong.
The prosecution team of Photini Papadatou and Michael Fox presented about three weeks of evidence while Edgerton called none.
- Get the latest developments in the trial from our reporter in the courtroom in our blog below. On our mobile app? You can also see it here.