A trial started Monday morning for a man charged with manslaughter in the death and disappearance of 59-year-old Eduardo Balaquit.
Kyle Alexander Pietz, who was 35 when he was charged in March 2021, has pleaded not guilty to the charge. He is presumed innocent.
A jury trial in the Manitoba Court of Queens Bench is scheduled for six weeks.
On Monday, during the opening day of the trial, jurors heard Balaquit has been missing since June 4, 2018. His body has not been found.
“This is a case about financial desperation,” Crown attorney Vanessa Gama told jurors.
Gama told the court in the Crown’s opening statement at the time of his disappearance, Balaquit was working cleaning a business — Westcon Equipment — in the 300 block of Keewatin Street, where Gama told the court Pietz previously worked.
Gama told the court after Pietz finished a shift on the night of April 24, 2018, Westcon suffered a break-in and about $1,700 was stolen from a petty cash box.
Gama told the jury Pietz’s fingerprint was found on a pamphlet used to jimmy the lock into building.
“Shortly after the break-in, Mr. Pietz stopped showing up for work and on May 16th of 2018 he ceased his employment there,” Gama told the court. “By June 4th of 2018 his payments were bouncing, the creditors were calling and he had absolutely no money in his bank account.”
“For Kyle Pietz, it was financial rock bottom.”
Gama told the court the jury will hear evidence that on 6 p.m. on June 4, Balaquit went to clean Westcon and that prior to the business closing Pietz was seen circling the building.
“Mr. Balaquit entered his alarm code at 6:05 p.m. and he was never seen or heard from again,” Gama told the jury.
The Crown alleges Pietz robbed Balaquit of his bank cards and PIN numbers and caused his death in the process but Gama told the jury the question the evidence won’t answer is how Balaquit died.
She told the court the jury must be satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that Balaquit is dead because his body’s never been recovered.
Balaquit’s family members are among those expected to testify at the trial.
The trial continues.
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