RED DEER, Alta. – A central Alberta financial adviser showed no emotion Tuesday night as a jury found him guilty of first-degree murder for killing his disabled client with a pipe bomb disguised as a Christmas present.
Brian Malley, 57, will serve a life sentence with no parole for 25 years after killing Victoria Shachtay, a 23-year-old single mother who died in her wheelchair when she opened a gift bag that had been left on her doorstep in Innisfail, Alta., in 2011.
Malley declined to say anything when asked during sentencing submissions if he wanted to address the court, but outside court, Shachtay’s family expressed relief.
“It’s a big weight off my shoulders,” said Victor Shachtay, the victim’s father. “I’m certain that Vicky would be satisfied with the outcome of this trial.”
Asked if he wished Malley had said something, he dismissed the notion.
“I don’t care about him. He’s gone. I’ll never have to worry about that man again, and he’s not on the streets killing other people.”
Crown prosecutor Anders Quist was pleased the jury saw it the way they did.
“It was not an easy case; the evidence was circumstantial,” he said.
Malley was also found guilty of two explosives-related charges by the jury, which deliberated for just six hours.
Over the course of the five-week trial, jurors were told that Shachtay entrusted more than half a million dollars she had been awarded in a car crash to Malley, a family friend. However, he had lost it all and was continuing her payments by using his own money.
The Crown argued he killed her to cut his losses, but the defence countered that Malley was simply a generous guy.
“There’s an easier way to cut your losses – you just stop paying,” defence lawyer Bob Aloneissi told the jury in his closing address.
“Mr. Malley is being prosecuted because he cares for people, in this case, a single mom in a wheelchair.”
Shachtay was paralyzed in a car crash in 2004, when she was 16 and pregnant. Three years later, she received a court settlement of $575,000 and Malley convinced her to take out a loan for another $264,000 to bump up her investment fund.
Quist reminded the jury that although some of the money was lost due to drops in the market, Malley also put some of her funds in high-risk investments.
He said Malley had called Shachtay “a pain in the ass” and described her as stubborn and lazy because she spent too much money and wouldn’t get a job.
DNA that was consistent with Malley’s, although not conclusive, was found on a piece of paper and tape in the bomb debris.
Other evidence showed Malley owned or purchased some of the same parts used to make the bomb – a piece of galvanized steel pipe, gunpowder, an end cap, a light switch, a lantern battery and tiny light bulbs.
Shachtay’s caregiver was also in the home at the time, but was not hurt. Her young daughter Destiny was not home.
Victor Shachtay said the girl still “doesn’t have a grasp … of how her mother died. It’s going to take a couple of years. She’ll find out, and we’ll have to do what we have to do then. There’s no use forcing her into this.”
He said he takes strength from his memory of his daughter and his pride in her.
“She was a happy person,” he said. “She was happy to be alive, happy to have a daughter. She coped with everything. She didn’t feel sorry for herself or whine or cry.”