'A family shattered': Son and sister of murder victim testify at faint hope hearing
After hearing a week's worth of evidence about the rehabilitation of convicted murderer Nancy McKinnon, jurors tasked with deciding whether she should get a shot at early release from prison got their first glimpse into the lives left "shattered" following the execution of her estranged husband, Nick Maradyn.
"The execution of Nick Maradyn has left a family shattered," said prosecutor Shane Parker in his opening address to jurors.
"Nancy Lee McKinnon was not the victim in this story, she is responsible for writing this tragedy."
At the time of the killing, Maradyn and McKinnon's son was just nine-years-old. On Monday, both he and Maradyn's sister — who went on to adopt her nephew — testified at McKinnon's faint hope hearing about the trauma they've lived since the murder.
McKinnon, 52, and her former boyfriend, Joey Bruso, were convicted of first-degree murder in the 2003 death of Maradyn, who was lured to a remote area and shot in the head. McKinnon and Bruso were handed life sentences with no chance of parole for 25 years.
Now, after serving 19 years and seven months of her life sentence, McKinnon is before a jury for a faint hope hearing, hoping to convince the panel to allow her to apply for parole before her 25 year ineligibility period.
Last week, McKinnon's lawyers, James McLeod and James Wyman, presented evidence they say show the convicted killer is a changed woman and deserves a chance to go before the parole board and ask for early release.
On Monday, the prosecution opened its case with an address to jurors, calling the convicted killer "inmate McKinnon" and describing her as having "manipulative and deceitful character traits."
Parker told the jury they must answer one question: "Does [McKinnon] deserve a reduction in the debt she owes for orchestrating a cold-blooded execution?"
The prosecution will argue she does not.
On June 14, 2003, McKinnon and Bruso lured Maradyn to an isolated location on Highway 2A near Crossfield. When he arrived, Bruso shot the victim with a recently purchased high-powered hunting rifle.
The murder took place just 10 days before Maradyn's divorce to McKinnon was finalized. Within 48 hours of his death, McKinnon tried to make claims on his insurance policies.
She and Bruso were arrested two weeks after the murder.
The first two witnesses for the Crown on Monday were Maradyn's younger sister, Vicky Maradyn, and his son, a now-29-year-old man whose name is protected by a publication ban because he was just a child when his father was killed.
CBC News will identify him as Jake.
'I missed out on life'
Overcome with emotion, Jake struggled to speak as he wiped tears from his eyes. He described a childhood that involved his father coaching his hockey teams and taking him camping.
Jake's life was derailed by the loss of both parents.
"I feel like I missed out on life, I had to grow up when I was nine years old," said Jake.
If a parent was capable of "the worst thing you can imagine" what could a stranger do, Jake said when asked about being in a relationship.
"I would never want to bring children into this world, I would never want them to have the bloodline that I have," he said.
"Life seems almost pointless."
Jake suffered 'cruel' harassment at school
The 29-year-old had not seen his mother since he was nine years old. And he hasn't wanted to.
On the night his father was killed, Jake was left alone at his father's home sleeping. The 2004 trial judge found McKinnon called Maradyn asking for help after car trouble, and he drove to pick her up.
Maradyn never returned, and Jake woke up alone.
Beyond the trauma of his father's murder, Jake also had to deal with junior high classmates who learned of his mother's murder conviction and tormented him about it.
The harassment, said Jake's aunt, was "so incredibly cruel."
'She's been my rock'
Jake did not finish high school and has struggled with health issues.
In her testimony, Vicky Maradyn said her brother adored being a father but she says she felt Maradyn was "tormented" in his marriage to McKinnon. Vicky testified she encouraged her brother to leave McKinnon.
They became even closer once Maradyn and McKinnon split.
After his death, Vicky said her main concern became her nephew.
"Once [McKinnon and Bruso] were arrested, I felt like that part of things was taken care of by the professionals," said Maradyn.
She focused on getting custody of Jake and adopting him.
"It was a labour of love, but it's just not easy … but I just loved him so much."
When asked about his relationship with his aunt, Jake replied: "She's been my rock."