Crown plays police interviews for jury at Saretzky triple murder trial
Published Thursday, June 15, 2017 1:20PM MDT
Last Updated Thursday, June 15, 2017 6:48PM MDT
Derek Saretzky’s recorded interviews with police were played for the jury at his murder trial in a Lethbridge courtroom on Thursday and in an audio exerpt he tells police that Hailey was in heaven but he didn't know where God put her body.
Saretzky is charged with three counts of first-degree murder in the September 2015 deaths of Hanne Meketech, 69, Terry Blanchette, 27, and Hailey Dunbar-Blanchette, 2.
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Blanchette was found dead in his home and an AMBER Alert was launched for Hailey when she was discovered missing from the residence.
The little girl’s remains were found a few days later at a rural property near Blairmore and Meketech’s body was located in her home by a neighbour.
In an agreed statement of facts, RCMP determined early on that Saretzky was a person of interest in the murder of Blanchette and Hailey’s abduction based on the evidence gathered and inconsistencies in his witness statement.
The Crown has introduced a number of witnesses during the trial and the jury has heard from some of Saretzky’s family members and a number of police officers and forensic experts.
On Wednesday, a blood spatter expert told the court that there were hundreds of spatter marks in the bathroom where Terry Blanchette’s body was found.
Photos taken inside the residence showed bloody footprints, blood around Hailey’s crib and a blood trail leading from the side door of the home to a neighbour’s driveway.
On Thursday, RCMP Corporal Guylaine Thibault, a forensics specialist based in Calgary, was the Crown’s first witness.
Thibault was called to photograph the basement of Saretzky’s mother’s home where a makeshift bedroom was found.
The court was shown images of a backpack, found inside Sherry Megli’s home, that contained paper that came from ‘The Killer Book of Serial Killers.’
The jury also saw photos of a hammer and machete that were located in the basement along with a drawer filled with latex gloves.
Constable Amanda Wilkinson was present during Saretzky’s arrest and statement to police and was the next to testify.
Wilkinson interviewed Saretzky’s uncle, Kevin, about the family’s company van and also went to Megli’s home to ask for a statement and was told that Derek was inside asleep.
She then went to Saretzky’s apartment to look for Hailey and was let into the suite by Saretzky’s father, Larry. Wilkinson testified that Larry told her “Derek had done something bad and he was afraid he was going to jail forever.”
Wilkinson said that officers went to Prestige Cleaners and found Derek and Larry in the back of the store and that they appeared to be ‘upset’ and that ‘both of them were crying.’
She said that Larry was cooperative but upset and that Derek was less upset and his answers to questions were ‘evasive.’
RCMP corporal Chad Koroluk, a major crimes investigator, told the court that he was called to investigate Hanne Meketech’s murder on September 9th and that he searched the area around her home for surveillance video.
He said that video obtained from the Kanata by Best Canadian Motor Inns showed a van that matched the witness description and that he spent a month in the Crowsnest Pass looking into the murders.
Koroluk was with two other officers when they searched Derek Saretzky’s apartment for Hailey and he told the jury that they noticed blood inside the unit and found a door in the basement that was locked from the inside.
The three officers went to the cleaners to speak to Larry and Derek and the court was played an audio recording of the conversation.
Saretzky is heard on the recording saying ‘yeah, I get it,’ when told that police were there to speak to him about Hailey’s disappearance. He went on the say “I don’t know what to tell you,’ when officers informed him that he was a suspect.
Officers told Saretzky that the priority was to find the little girl and when they asked him if she was alive he responded by saying “there’s a possibility.’
Saretzky can be heard telling police ‘You just saw her. You all did. She’s in heaven. Her spirit is floating around,” and when asked if Hailey was still alive, he said ‘She’s not. I have a feeling she’s not.’
He told officers that God told him that ‘she probably didn’t have a good life, she wasn’t very loved,’ and that she was in heaven and that he didn't know where God put her body.
The audio recording continues as Saretzky is loaded into a police vehicle and the accused acknowledged that he was aware he was being recorded.
He said that he didn’t understand when he was told that he was under arrest for Terry Blanchette’s murder and said ‘I don’t remember doing it.’
Koroluk and Saretzky arrived at the RCMP detachment and in the recording; Saretzky initially says “I don’t think I need a lawyer’ but then changes his mind and looks through a phone book.
Koroluk calls the lawyer’s office but learns that the attorney no longer works there and the officer then gives Saretzky time to choose another.
He tells Koroluk that ‘I don’t believe I’m guilty’ and that “I’ll plead it out, not guilty, and that’ll at least buy me some time.”
The officer then calls legal aid and connects with lawyer Ingrid Hess who is then left to chat privately with the accused.
Saretzky tells the officer that he should probably see a doctor about the medication he is supposed to be taking to help him sleep.
He is then taken to his cell and the audio recording ends.
The final witness for the day was Staff Sergeant Michael McCauley, who is currently stationed in Fort Saskatchewan.
The Crown told the court that McCauley conducted the suspect interviews and then showed the jury Saretzky’s video statement.
The video shows the suspect and officer facing each other and McCauley explains to Saretzky that he is not there to judge him.
Saretzky tells McCauley that he feels terrible and that ‘it feels like I got a hex on me.’ He said that he has a good heart and that he ‘got a feeling people are after me.’
He told the officer that he dated Hailey’s mother, Cheyenne, after she had the little girl and when asked if he was a stepdad, he replied, ‘kind of, I guess.’ He says the relationship ended because a friend didn’t like Cheyenne and he was forced to choose between them.
Saretzky said in the interview that he has heard voices for years and that the devil told him to do horrible things.
McCauley remained calm during the interview as he pressed Saretzky for more information about Hailey’s whereabouts.
He told Saretzky that, ‘There’s a little girl who’s by herself. Dead or alive, she needs to come home,’ and said that Saretzky told him that he didn’t know where Hailey’s body was.
Saretzky later said he choked Hailey, dismembered her and then ‘ate a bit of her heart to try and strengthen me.’
He said he used a crowbar to kill Terry Blanchette and that he cut his throat and drained his blood.
Near the end of the interview, Saretzky asks McCauley how long he thinks he will be facing and told the officer that he thinks he’ll have a better chance if he pleads insanity.
Saretzky has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The trial is scheduled for four weeks and prosecutors are expecting to wrap their case by June 22nd.