Creditors had sought accused in days before Balaquit slaying, police testify
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 27/04/2022 (404 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
For more than 20 years, cleaning the offices at Westcon Equipment and Rentals was part of Eduardo Balaquit’s nightly routine.
At 6:05 p.m., June 4, 2018, the man, as he had done countless times before, entered his alarm code, disarming the Keewatin Street business’s security system.
That act marked the last time Balaquit was known to be alive, Winnipeg Police Service Sgt. Paul Barber told jurors Wednesday.
Checks with the Canadian Border Services Agency and Canadian Air Traffic Security Authority confirmed Balaquit did not travel across the border or by air since then, Barber testified. Similar checks with Manitoba Health and Canadian Police Information Centre databases showed no evidence of involvement with Balaquit.
Kyle Pietz, a former employee at Westcon, is on trial for manslaughter. Prosecutors allege Pietz, 36, killed Balaquit, 59, during a robbery and forced him to disclose his bank card numbers.
Balaquit’s body has never been found.
Jurors have heard a probe into Pietz’s financial records from April 24 to June 11, 2018, revealed he had taken out loans totalling more than $60,000 and had defaulted on all of them. He had also maxed out three credit cards, with a total balance of more than $8,000.
Pietz wasn’t working during that time period, having quit Westcon on May 16, three weeks after $1,700 was stolen from a company petty cash box.
Pietz was ultimately charged in that theft, but prosecutors later stayed the charge.
Barber said an examination of Pietz’s cellphone revealed on May 30 and 31, just days before Balaquit was presumed killed, Scotiabank called Pietz 10 times about his $34,000 car loan. None of those calls were answered.
Another loan company texted Pietz seven times over the course of a week about his outstanding $5,800 file.
Barber said during a search of Pietz’s Toronto Street home, police recovered a discarded package of zip ties, noting they had been tied together in sets of two.
“In my experience, zip ties have been used to tie people up,” Barber said.
Defence lawyer Amanda Sansregret countered there are numerous legitimate uses for zip ties, such as staking tomato plants.
“You have a theory, but you have no evidence zip ties had anything to do with the disappearance of Mr. Balaquit,” she said.
In earlier testimony Wednesday, Pietz’s sister, Carly Martin, told court Pietz and his wife moved in with her and their parents around the time of his initial arrest in June 2018.
Martin testified Pietz told her at the time he had contacted Balaquit by phone about picking up some boxes at Westcon
“He basically told me that he and Eduardo communicated about boxes, he went to pick up boxes, and that is all I know,” she said.
Barber said police examined both men’s cellphones and found no evidence of any calls or text messages between them.
On Tuesday, jurors heard police found Balaquit’s confirmed bank card numbers written on a sticky note attached to a bag of food in Pietz’s fridge.
Jurors have been shown security video capturing a man prosecutors allege is Pietz using Balaquit’s bank card to withdraw money from an ATM at an Ellice Avenue 7-Eleven store, shortly after midnight June 5, 2018.
According to an agreed statement of facts provided to court Monday, another of Pietz’s sisters, Holly Pietz, identified Kyle Pietz as the man in the video.
Shown the same video Wednesday, Martin said she had no idea if the man pictured was her brother.
“There is no clear shot of that person’s face or features or anything like that,” she said.
However, Martin confirmed Pietz as the man pictured in a Keewatin Liquor Mart security video the evening of June 4.
Martin conceded the shoes of the man in the 7-Eleven video were “similar” to those Pietz could be seen wearing in the Liquor Mart video.
Barber said a picture found on Pietz’s cellphone showed him wearing a ballcap and hoodie similar to the man in the 7-Eleven security video.
The Crown has closed its case. The trial will resume May 3.
Someone once said a journalist is just a reporter in a good suit. Dean Pritchard doesn’t own a good suit. But he knows a good lawsuit.