Eduardo Balaquit’s disappearance was an act of financial desperation, crown alleges

WINNIPEG –

Financial desperation drove Kyle Alexander Pietz to Westcon Equipment and Rentals on the evening of June 4, 2018, where long-time contract cleaner Eduardo Balaquit, 59, was targeted either personally or as a means to get into the building and robbed of his bank cards and personal identification numbers (PINs), the Crown argued in its closing arguments of a jury trial that has taken place over the past month.

“Eduardo Balaquit was a hardworking, devoted family man,” Brent Davidson, a Crown attorney, argued Tuesday in the Manitoba Court of Queens Bench. “Everything changed at 6:05 p.m. on June 4, 2018.

“The trail of evidence leads directly to Kyle Pietz for manslaughter.”

Pietz, 36, has pleaded not guilty to manslaughter in Balaquit’s disappearance and is presumed innocent.

Balaquit’s body has never been found. Davidson argued it’s not an impediment to a conviction and that the only reasonable explanation to Balaquit’s disappearance is that he’s dead.

“Eduardo Balaquit lost his life for $700,” Davidson argued.

Davidson told jurors Balaquit disarmed the alarm using a code at Westcon at 6:05 p.m., as he’d done for the past 20 years, before Pietz, a former Westcon employee who drove a vehicle similar to one captured on surveillance video in the area and who witnesses testified was seen driving in the area prior to that, waited for Balaquit to show up to clean the business.

“Mr. Pietz circled and waited for his intended target,” Davidson told the court.

He argued Pietz then robbed Balaquit of his bank cards and PINs using violence – a dangerous act the Crown argued caused Balaquit’s death inside Westcon.

“Kyle Pietz caused his death during this robbery. You can be sure those were not handed over willingly. He obtained them through violence,” Davidson told jurors. “The mechanism of death was not a bloodletting action.”

He argued Balaquit wasn’t stabbed or shot and told jurors there are a plethora of other ways his death could’ve been caused, arguing the Crown does not need to prove exactly how Balaquit died, but it does need to prove that Pietz caused his death.

Davidson argued Pietz discarded Balaquit’s body somewhere north of Winnipeg towards Arborg, Man., where court heard Pietz’s cellphone communicated with cell towers in the area.

Court heard 24 zip ties paired together to make 12 longer ones and a roll of duct tape were found in the garbage of Pietz’s home beneath an eaten box of 7-Eleven chicken wings. Packaging for the zip ties was found in Pietz’s vehicle, the jury heard.

“Mr. Pietz had means, motive and opportunity and also disposed of evidence,” Davidson argued.

Davidson told jurors three of Balaquit’s PINs were written on a sticky note stuck to a 7-Eleven bag found in Pietz’s fridge during a search of his home by the Winnipeg Police Service’s forensic identification unit.

“These 12 numbers found in Mr. Pietz’s fridge are Eduardo’s PINs,” Davidson argued. “These 12 numbers tell you everything.”

Surveillance video obtained by investigators from a 7-Eleven at around 12:30 a.m. on June 5, 2018 shows an individual entering the store to use the ATM. Court has heard $700 was taken out from Balaquit’s account in three separate transactions using a correct PIN.

The jury was told it is an agreed fact that one of Pietz’s sisters told police the individual in the video clip was her brother Kyle. A different sister, Carly Martin, testified she’s not 100 per cent sure about the identity of the person in the video.

“On the same day that Mr. Balaquit died his accounts were drained by a male who had significant financial challenges,” Davidson argued.

Davidson pointed to testimony given during the trial about how in the lead up to Balaquit’s disappearance, Pietz’s credit cards were maxed out, loan payments were bouncing and creditors were calling Pietz, who court heard had quit his job at Westcon following a theft of $1,700 from a cash box that the Crown argued Pietz committed.

“Mr. Pietz’s financial desperation drove him to Westcon,” Davidson argued. “There is ample evidence to satisfy you of Mr. Pietz’s guilt.”

Pietz’s lawyers called no evidence in the trial and have yet to present closing arguments.

CTV News Winnipeg will provide more details as they become available.

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