An employee at Westcon Equipment and Rentals told the jury in a trial for the man accused in the disappearance of 59-year-old Eduardo Balaquit he was asked by the owner of the business to walk through the building the day after Balaquit vanished.
Former Westcon worker Kyle Alexander Pietz, 36, has pleaded not guilty to manslaughter in Balaquit’s death.
Jason Pohl, an employee in the shipping and receiving department who has worked at Westcon since 2009, testified he went through the building on the morning of June 5, 2018 after arriving at work at 6:30 a.m., about an hour earlier than his normal start time.
“I found an X-Acto knife on the shipping dock,” Pohl told the jury.
He testified he found the knife on a barbecue, picked it up and took it away. Pohl told the jury he put it back after someone told him he shouldn’t have touched it.
Pohl testified he found a roll of shrink wrap out of place, about two to three feet long, that he usually keeps on his filing cabinet.
“I picked it up again like the knife and I put it back, obviously, after,” Pohl told the jury.
He testified in all the years he has worked at Westcon, only one person has ever asked to borrow shrink wrap and he’s never found it out of place before.
Pohl testified that on the evening of June 4, 2018, the day Balaquit vanished, he drove by Westcon after work at 7:52 p.m. with his mother to go to Costco where he bought a fire pit.
On his way to Costco, Pohl testified he saw a blue Ford Escape that he told the court belonged to Pietz, who court has heard no longer worked at Westcon at that time, parked outside the south side of the company’s main building. He testified Balaquit’s van was parked in front of Westcon.
Pohl told court on his way home from Costco just after 8 p.m., he drove into Westcon to show his mother some flowers in the lot.
“Eddie’s vehicle is now backed in,” Pohl testified. “It’s just backed in this time. Not even 30 seconds later the vehicle left, drove behind me.”
“It went through the parking lot behind me, out on to Keewatin and on the very next building there’s a back lane. There’s a back lane with no street name and that’s where it went up.”
Pohl testified he didn’t see who was driving the van.
“Kyle’s vehicle was still in the same spot,” Pohl testified. “Before I left, I drove through our parking lot right in front of Kyle’s vehicle and I actually got out of my vehicle and I walked around to see if it was his and I could see the big dent in the door. I looked inside the vehicle to see if anybody was in there. Nobody was in there.”
Pohl told the jury he went home and texted his boss about what he had observed and then returned to Westcon.
“There was no vehicles there anymore,” Pohl testified.
During cross-examination by Pietz’s lawyer Amanda Sansregret, Pohl told the court he never saw Pietz, only his vehicle.
“He shouldn’t have been there,” Pohl told the court. “A former employee, quit two weeks prior and then he’s parked for hours in the building. What’s he doing there?” Pohl testified.
Cavin Zinke, a heavy duty mechanic who worked at Westcon told the court he saw a blue Ford Escape “doing laps” around Westcon before he left work around 5:45 p.m. on June 4.
“Three times in total,” Zinke testified.
He told the court he made eye contact with the driver.
“I believe it was Kyle,” Zinke testified. “That is the vehicle he drove.”
Sargent Michael Macdonald, a detective with the Winnipeg Police Service who worked on the investigation into Balaquit’s disappearance, testified officers obtained Pietz’s bank records for the time period between April 24 and June 11, 2018.
Macdonald testified Pietz’s last direct deposit payment from Westcon came on May 25, 2018. He told the court after that deposit, bank records showed a total of 11 NSF (non-sufficient funds) payments on various loans for a total of $1720.25 and $528 worth of NSF charges.
Macdonald told the court bank records showed three of Pietz’s credit cards with balances exceeding their credit limit.
Court has heard Balaquit’s body has never been found. His family members have testified they have not heard from or seen Balaquit since he left for work to clean Westcon on the night of June 4, 2018.
The Crown has argued Pietz killed Balaquit during a robbery.
Pietz is presumed innocent.
The trial continues.
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