09/14/2016 11:18 EDT | Updated 09/15/2017 01:12 EDT

Appeal court reserves decision on new trial in central Alberta murder case

CALGARY — Alberta's Court of Appeal has reserved its decision on a request for a new trial for a central Alberta man convicted in the bombing death of a young woman.

Brian Malley was convicted of first-degree murder by a jury in February, 2015 in the death of Victoria Shachtay at her home in Innisfail, Alta., in 2011.

Shachtay was paralyzed in a car crash in 2004, when she was 16 and pregnant. Court heard she received a $575,000 court settlement in 2007 and turned to Malley, a family friend, to help her invest the money. She also borrowed another $264,000 to bump up the fund.

By April 2011, it was nearly all gone.

On Nov. 25, 2011, a green-and-gold gift bag was delivered to her door in Innisfail, just south of Red Deer. Her caregiver brought the package inside and Shachtay opened it while sitting in her wheelchair at the kitchen table.

The 23-year-old was killed instantly.

Malley's lawyer, Nathan Whitling, asked the Appeal Court to set aside the conviction and order a new trial for his client.

He told the three-member panel that the trial judged erred by not allowing the jury to hear evidence about other possible suspects in the case, including the Shachtay's brother, who had a history of drug use and owed drug debts.

"I suggest that even if there was a reasonableness or a deferential standard to be applied here this is evidence that at least had some probative value," said Whitling. 

"It was kept from the jury. The jury was not able to consider it. If it had some probative value they should have," he said.

"It may have raised a reasonable doubt and that's all that was required of this evidence. That's the only reason the defence sought to submit it."

The Crown said the trial judge was correct to discount the evidence.

Christine Rideout told court there were no other legitimate suspects that could have committed the crime.

"When the deceased was killed and in the months leading up to that time there was no evidence that anybody out of these third-party suspects had an animus against her," Rideout said.

"There's no evidence that anybody had a motive to kill her. There's no evidence that any of these individuals had the disposition to do that to her. These were simply red herrings that were properly kept away from the jury."

The court didn't indicate when a decision would be made.

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