Saretzky found guilty of three counts of first-degree murder
Published Wednesday, June 28, 2017 6:55AM MDT Last Updated Wednesday, June 28, 2017 8:05PM MDT
Jurors at the triple murder trial for Derek Saretzky have found the 24-year old guilty of three counts of first-degree murder and one count of indignity to a body in connection with the deaths of Hanne Meketech, Terry Blanchette and Hailey Dunbar-Blanchette in September 2015.
Saretzky stood in the courtroom, with his head slightly bent, while the guilty verdicts were read. Friends of Hanne Meketech greeted the verdict with tears.
The jury deliberated for nearly three hours before reaching its verdict.
First-degree murder carries an automatic sentence of life in prison. On Wednesday afternoon, the jury recommended that Saretzky be ineligible for parole for a period of 75 years. Sentencing will take place on Thursday morning following the reading of eight victim impact statements.
** WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT FOLLOWS **
In a police interview, Saretzky admitted to killing Meketech, 69, in her trailer and to hitting Blanchette, 27, with a crowbar before slitting his throat and leaving him in the bathroom of his home.
Saretzky also told police that he strangled two-year-old Hailey with a shoelace before dismembering her body and burning her remains.
On Monday, Crown prosecutor Photini Papadatou spent a couple of hours laying out her closing arguments and going over evidence for the jury.
Papadatou told the court that Terry Blanchette and Hanne Meketech had similar blunt and sharp force injuries, that both were killed at night and that the same white van was seen leaving both scenes around the time of the murders.
"How can you be satisfied that this man, Derek Saretzky, killed each of these people?" Papadatou said. "One, he told you that he did it."
She also talked about Hailey’s murder saying that her blood was found at a rural property owned by the Saretzky family and on a pair of cowboy boots in Saretzky’s apartment.
The defence did not call any evidence during the trial and in closing arguments, focused mostly on Meketech’s death, saying there were inconsistencies in Saretzky’s statement to police.
Defence lawyer, Patrick Edgerton also accused officers of pushing their theories on Saretzky and encouraged the jury to take a look at his answers.
“We’ve spent three weeks going through experts and lay people, witnesses, and now it’s their turn to make the decisions and decide what happened,” said Edgerton.
Edgerton reminded the jury that his client is innocent until proven guilty and the prosecution has to prove every aspect of the case.
"It's the Crown's job not only to prove the accused did the crime they're accused of but also all elements of the offences," he said.
On Wednesday, 14 members of the jury received instructions from Justice William Tilleman and then two were selected to leave.
He told the remaining 12 that they would need to assess the information before them and to disregard anything they have heard outside the courtroom.
Tillman said that their decision must be unanimous and that if they had a reasonable doubt, then they would have to find the accused not guilty.
The jury could return with one of three possible verdicts; guilty of first-degree murder, guilty of second-degree murder or not guilty.
Jurors started deliberations at 12:51 p.m. and remained sequestered until shortly before 4:00 p.m..
(With files from Kaella Carr and The Canadian Press)