May 23, 2018

Winnipeg
30° C, Partly cloudy

Full Forecast

Verdict expected Thursday for accused letter bomber Guido Amsel

Nearly three years after a series of explosive packages caused chaos in Winnipeg, a decision is expected on the fate of the accused bomber.

Former autobody mechanic Guido Amsel, 52, maintains his innocence and has testified he was not responsible for the bombings. He'll learn Thursday whether a provincial court judge agrees.

Judge Tracey Lord is expected to deliver her decision in court in front of a TV news camera, so the verdict can be broadcast live and streamed online. It will be livestreamed on winnipegfreepress.com starting at 2 p.m.

He's pleaded not guilty to 19 criminal charges including five counts of attempted murder. He's accused of building and mailing the bombs to target his ex-wife and the lawyers handling their civil lawsuit, including his ex-wife's former lawyer, Maria Mitousis, who lost her right hand in a July 3, 2015 explosion at her law office.

Subscribers Log in below to continue reading,
not a subscriber? Create an account to start a 60 day free trial.

Log in Create your account

Your free trial has come to an end.

We hope you have enjoyed your trial! To continue reading, we recommend our Read Now Pay Later membership. Simply add a form of payment and pay only 27¢ per article.

For unlimited access to the best local, national, and international news and much more, try an All Access Digital subscription:

Thank you for supporting the journalism that our community needs!

Nearly three years after a series of explosive packages caused chaos in Winnipeg, a decision is expected on the fate of the accused bomber.

Former autobody mechanic Guido Amsel, 52, maintains his innocence and has testified he was not responsible for the bombings. He'll learn Thursday whether a provincial court judge agrees.

Guido Amsel, 49, is shown in this undated handout photo. A Winnipeg man accused of mailing letter-bombs to his ex-wife and two law firms is moving closer to getting legal representation. Guido Amsel appeared briefly in court Thursday via video link, and a lawyer acting as a friend of the court said the accused is in the midst of securing a lawyer from another province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Winnipeg Police Service

CP

Guido Amsel, 49, is shown in this undated handout photo. A Winnipeg man accused of mailing letter-bombs to his ex-wife and two law firms is moving closer to getting legal representation. Guido Amsel appeared briefly in court Thursday via video link, and a lawyer acting as a friend of the court said the accused is in the midst of securing a lawyer from another province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Winnipeg Police Service

Judge Tracey Lord is expected to deliver her decision in court in front of a TV news camera, so the verdict can be broadcast live and streamed online. It will be livestreamed on winnipegfreepress.com starting at 2 p.m.

He's pleaded not guilty to 19 criminal charges including five counts of attempted murder. He's accused of building and mailing the bombs to target his ex-wife and the lawyers handling their civil lawsuit, including his ex-wife's former lawyer, Maria Mitousis, who lost her right hand in a July 3, 2015 explosion at her law office.

Two more explosive packages were detonated by police bomb-squad robots over the same weekend, prompting several false alarms and reports of suspicious packages across the city throughout that summer.

Timeline

July 2, 2015: A Canada Post letter carrier delivers a bubble-wrapped package addressed to lawyer Maria Mitousis at the Petersen King law firm at 252 River Avenue. The package remains unopened until the next day. It is placed on Mitousis's desk until her return to the office.

July 3, 2015: An explosion severely injures Mitousis and shatters windows at the law office after the explosive package is opened. Mitousis loses her right hand in the explosion. The bomb was disguised inside a voice recorder that purported to contain audio that would help with her "defence."

July 2, 2015: A Canada Post letter carrier delivers a bubble-wrapped package addressed to lawyer Maria Mitousis at the Petersen King law firm at 252 River Avenue. The package remains unopened until the next day. It is placed on Mitousis's desk until her return to the office.

July 3, 2015: An explosion severely injures Mitousis and shatters windows at the law office after the explosive package is opened. Mitousis loses her right hand in the explosion. The bomb was disguised inside a voice recorder that purported to contain audio that would help with her "defence."

July 4, 2015: A package addressed to Guido Amsel's ex-wife Iris Amsel explodes after being shot with a police bomb robot's water cannon at 597 Washington Avenue. The explosive device appeared to be within a notebook. Guido Amsel is arrested as a suspect in the bombings.

July 5, 2015: A package addressed to lawyer George Orle at 280 Stradbrook Avenue is also detonated by a police bomb squad robot. That explosive was hidden within an electronic greeting card.

July 6, 2015: Amsel is charged with the three explosions. He would later be charged with a fourth explosion that happened Dec. 13, 2013 at his ex-wife's home in the RM of St. Clements.

Summer 2015: WPS continues to investigate several reports of suspicious packages in the city, one of which turns out to be a chocolate Easter bunny. No other explosive packages are found.

Sept. 9, 2015: Amsel is denied bail.

Feb. 25, 2016: Amsel's request for an out-of-province judge to hear his case is denied in Manitoba's Court of Queen's Bench.

May 12, 2016: Amsel is denied bail for a second time. He remains in custody awaiting trial.

September 2017: Amsel's provincial court trial begins. He pleads not guilty to 19 criminal charges, including five counts of attempted murder stemming from the bombings. The trial continues intermittently over the next four months, hearing from more than 40 witnesses.

Dec. 19, 2017: Provincial court Judge Tracey Lord hears closing arguments from lawyers and reserves her decision.

April 6, 2018: A decision date is arranged for May 17, 2018 for Lord to deliver her verdict.

May 17, 2018: The verdict is expected. CTV was granted permission to broadcast the judge's decision, which will be livestreamed on winnipegfreepress.com

The lawsuit, which prosecutors argued may have been his motive for the bombings, aimed to collect money Guido Amsel owed his ex-wife, Iris Amsel, after their business assets were divided following their divorce, and he launched a counter-claim against his ex-wife.

Guido had accused Iris of fraud and seemed to believe she and her lawyer were "paying off" his own lawyer during the case.

The explosive packages were mailed about a week before a scheduled auction for the Amsels' formerly co-run business, Eurotech Autobody. The auction was the last step in a legal dispute that had stretched on between the former spouses since 2010. It would have liquidated their equipment assets and forced Guido Amsel to pay his ex-wife more than $20,000 he owed her as a result of their divorce.

Guido Amsel has always maintained he is not the bomber. When he testified in court last fall, he said DNA evidence has been planted against him, that he's being framed for the explosions and that his ex-wife could be the real bomber. He wrote a letter to the minister of justice accusing the police, the Crown prosecutor and his former defence lawyer of mishandling the case, but his current defence lawyer acknowledged that letter has "negligible value" in court.

In a previous court ruling that opened the door to deciding the identity of the bomber, Lord found that all three of the mailed explosives were sent by the same person. Her Dec. 12, 2017, ruling meant evidence from one bombing could be considered for all of them, and she decided there was at least some evidence linking Amsel to each of those explosions. The same brand of button batteries was used in all of the mailed explosives. An FBI handwriting analysis of the address labels and messages sent to the victims came back inconclusive.

His DNA was found at two of the explosion scenes, including in Mitousis's office and on a piece of string outside his ex-wife's home in 2013. Amsel's defence team argued his DNA might have been expected at the scene of the 2013 explosion, since it happened outside the home he and his ex-wife once shared.

The Crown's theory is that the string was a "trip wire" meant to trigger the bomb when Iris Amsel or her boyfriend unplugged their car in the morning. The defence argued there's no evidence of a trip wire and has put forward several explanations for why Amsel's DNA would be found on a string outside the home where he once lived.

Amsel's trial heard from more than 40 witnesses when it took place intermittently over the course of about four months last fall, and he's been in custody since his arrest in July 2015.

katie.may@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @thatkatiemay

Read more by Katie May.

History

Updated on Wednesday, May 16, 2018 at 8:27 PM CDT: Fixes typo

May 17, 2018 at 8:50 AM: Corrects typo

12:44 PM: Updates copy to show Guido Amsel owed his ex-wife $40,000, not $100,000

The Winnipeg Free Press is not accepting comments on this story.

Why aren't comments accepted on this story? See our Commenting Terms and Conditions.