Calgary husband guilty of second-degree murder after fatally hitting wife with U-Haul van

A Calgary man has been found guilty of murdering his wife after running her down with a U-Haul van in a disturbing domestic homicide.

Justice Blair Nixon found Ronald Candaele guilty of second-degree murder Wednesday morning in the death of his wife Melissa Rae Blommaert in Bowness in February 2020.

A two-week trial took place in early May.

The 33-year-old victim was found unconscious, lying on the roadway in the 8000 block of 34th Avenue N.W. around 6 a.m. on Feb. 10, 2020. She was taken to hospital in critical, life-threatening condition, where she was later pronounced dead.

In his verdict, Nixon said Crown prosecutors Hyatt Mograbee and Robert Marquette proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Candaele deliberately struck the victim with a fully loaded U-Haul vehicle.

"She did not die by accident and he did not stop to assist her in a time of critical need," he said.

Nixon also noted Candaele didn’t return to the scene after the fact and that his story about what happened to his partner repeatedly changed between taking to a 911 operator and police.

As Nixon read his verdict, Candaele repeatedly shook his head in court.

During the trial, the court heard that several neighbours heard yelling as well as the sound of a revving engine just before the crash.

Domestic violence advocates say they are glad to see accountability but say these outcomes happen far too often in the city.

"I want people to be shocked and disturbed because it’s shocking and disturbing," says Andrea Silverstone with the Sagesse Domestic Violence Prevention Society.

"But I think that shock and disturbance needs to promote us as a society to do something to make sure that we’re getting upstream of this issue, stopping violence before it begins, and holding each one of us accountable."

Candaele’s lawyer says they will review the decision before deciding if they’ll appeal.

A second-degree murder conviction comes with an automatic life sentence, but Candaele will be back in court for a sentencing hearing for parole eligibility on July 23.

If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse or have questions about domestic violence you can contact police or phone 403-234-SAFE (7233) or visit Sagesse Domestic Violence Prevention Society.