Edward Balaquit called on the man found guilty of manslaughter in the disappearance and death of 59-year-old Eduardo Balaquit to speak up and bring his father home.
“For us, what we miss most is his presence,” Edward told the court. “Not knowing where he is or how he got there is an unknown that has haunted my family every day. It’s not something anyone deserves.”
Edward made the appeal during his victim impact statement at a sentencing hearing for Kyle Pietz Wednesday in the Manitoba Court of King’s Bench.
Pietz, 37, was found guilty by a jury of manslaughter this past May.
Balaquit’s body has not been found.
“Kyle stayed silent and showed no remorse during his trial,” Edward told the court.
Family, friends and supporters of the Balaquits packed one side of a large courtroom as Edward, his brother Erwin and mom Iluminada told the court about the impact Eduardo’s death has had on their family.
“You stole our life and it will never be the same,” Iluminada told the court. “The impact is so painful and scary.”
“I miss his laughter. He never had a chance to see our little angel, Edward’s daughter.”
Erwin told the court he was very close with his father, who he referred to as his paps.
“Our family is no longer complete without him,” Erwin told the court.
Eduardo, who worked alone as a cleaner at Westcon Equipment and Rentals, disarmed the alarm just after 6 p.m. on June 4, 2018.
He was never seen or heard from again.
Vanessa Gama, a Crown attorney, told the court finding Pietz guilty of manslaughter required the jury to be satisfied Balaquit is dead, that an unlawful act of robbery occurred, that the unlawful act was dangerous and that it was the cause of Balaquit’s death.
The Crown which previously indicated it would be seeking a life sentence told the court Wednesday that a fit and appropriate sentence would be one of 18 years.
The Crown argued at trial Pietz, driven by financial desperation, killed Balaquit while robbing him of his bank cards and personal identification numbers (PINs) at Westcon and then discarded his body in the area of Arborg, Man. north of Winnipeg.
“The evidence highlights that Mr. Balaquit was prevented from cleaning almost immediately after he disarmed that alarm,” Gama told the court. “And it was only his bank cards and his PINs that were stolen that night.”
“Mr. Pietz was seeking to rob Mr. Balaquit of something most people take steps to secure: their debit cards and PINs.”
Gama told the court surveillance video showed Pietz circling the business and waiting for Balaquit, who was vulnerable because he was working alone in a large warehouse where Pietz, who was seen in surveillance video dressed in a Westcon shirt the day Balaquit disappeared, previously worked.
“He made himself look like he still worked there,” Gama told the court.
She asked the court to make five factual findings: that the robbery was planned and deliberate, Eduardo was vulnerable, there was a financial motive, it wasn’t an accident and Pietz destroyed evidence.
Gama argued based on evidence seized by police that Pietz used zip ties and duct tape in the robbery which further supports the finding the robbery was planned and deliberate.
Court heard Balaquit worked three jobs to support his family.
His son Edward told the sentencing hearing they’ve had to shut down his father’s businesses. He added the family has faced financial hardships due to the costs of searching for his father and legal expenses incurred hiring a lawyer to file for a presumption of death order, a process he told the court has been complicated because his father’s body has not been recovered.
“Although there have been financial difficulties, we knew crime isn’t the answer,” Edward told the court. “Something I wish Kyle knew before he met my father.”
The sentencing hearing will continue Wednesday with submissions from Pietz’s lawyers.
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