Travis Vader to appeal sentence in deaths of St. Albert couple

Alberta’s highest court is set to hear Travis Vader’s appeal on Tuesday of the manslaughter sentence he received in the deaths of Lyle and Marie McCann. 

Vader was found guilty of manslaughter in January 2017 in the deaths of the elderly St. Albert couple, who went missing in 2010 while on a camping trip. He was sentenced to life in prison with no chance at parole for seven years.

Parole board documents show that with credit for time served in custody before his conviction, Vader would be eligible to apply for full parole in March 2020.

His appeal will be heard Tuesday in Edmonton by the Court of Appeal of Alberta.

Vader has consistently denied killing Lyle McCann, 78, and Marie McCann, 77. Their bodies were never found.

He is appealing his sentence on two grounds, according to court documents. 

The first ground of the appeal  questions the logic used by the trial judge to determine Vader’s blameworthiness. 

His defence lawyers will argue that the trial judge was mistaken in assessing Vader’s culpability on the basis that discharging a firearm is likely to result in death, despite the lack of proof that the McCann’s died in that manner. 

The trial judge found that Vader tried to rob the McCanns with a firearm, that violence ensued, that the firearm was discharged at least once, and that the McCanns died as a result of violence, according to court documents. 

“However, it was not proven that the McCanns were killed by gunshots, since the only evidence of a gunshot did not indicate that the bullet hit a person,” Vader’s court document said.

The second ground for the appeal concerns the severity of the sentence. 

Vader’s lawyers will argue that the facts and circumstances of the case were not exceptional or severe enough to justify handing him the maximum sentence permitted by law for manslaughter. 

They are asking the court to set aside Vader’s global sentence of life in prison and to substitute it with two sentences of 12 to 18 years, to be served concurrently. 

The Crown’s position is that the judge did not err in assessing Vader’s moral culpability, and that the global life sentence was fit. 

Vader unsuccessfully appealed his manslaughter convictions. The Supreme Court of Canada dismissed that appeal earlier this month.