Kyle Pietz found guilty of manslaughter in Eduardo Balaquit case

A jury has found 36-year-old Kyle Pietz guilty of manslaughter in the disappearance of 59-year-old Eduardo Balaquit.

Balaquit vanished June 4, 2018, after going to work to clean Westcon Equipment and Rentals — Pietz’s former place of employment.

Balaquit’s body has never been found and it’s not known how he died.

“In honour of my dad this person needed to go to jail,” son Edward Balaquit, who was surrounded by family, told reporters outside court shortly after the verdict came down.

The jury returned the verdict at around 7:15 p.m. Wednesday after a month-long trial with the foreperson announcing the verdict of guilty in court at around 7:45 p.m. They deliberated for approximately six hours before they reached their verdict.

“It was a bit scary. You never know what’s going on in the jury’s minds,” Edward said. “To us it seemed pretty evident through the evidence that came out…and thankfully the jury saw it the same way.”

Balaquit’s family members, including his wife and two sons, sat in the front row on one side of the courtroom as they have throughout the entirety of the trial. A faint gasp could be heard as the verdict was delivered.

“It’s good the person that was responsible for the crimes against my father is finally found guilty,” Edward said. “Throughout this whole process we were hoping that the evidence would show us where my dad is or if this person would finally tell us where he is. He didn’t give us that information we needed and that’s the piece that we really want to know.”

Family members of Pietz sat in a row of seats on the other side of the courtroom. He hugged his lawyer before being walked out of the courtroom in handcuffs by two sheriff’s officers.

The Crown argued Pietz caused Balaquit’s death while robbing Balaquit of his bank cards and personal identification numbers at Westcon.

During closing arguments Tuesday, Crown attorney Brent Davidson argued Pietz disposed of Balaquit’s body somewhere north of Winnipeg towards Arborg, Man. and then took out $700 cash from Balaquit’s bank account from an ATM at a 7-Eleven on Ellice Avenue.

Court has heard Balaquit’s PINs were found on a sticky note stuck to a 7-Eleven bag in Pietz’s fridge.

“For over four years the Winnipeg Police Service tirelessly investigated the disappearance of Eduardo Balaquit. For four years the focus of that investigation was on Kyle Pietz,” Davidson told reporters in a statement outside the courtroom after the verdict. “Based upon the verdict today, the focus now turns to the Balaquit family.”

Sgt. Wade McDonald, a lead investigator on the case with the Winnipeg Police Service, told reporters outside court hearing the verdict was a good feeling following a four-year investigation.

“The focus right now is on the Balaquit family, the community. We spent four years as an investigative team focusing on Kyle Pietz. Today we’re focusing on Mr. Balaquit,” McDonald said. “A reminder to the public he still hasn’t been found. We’re still asking for the public’s assistance.”

He described it as an “extremely challenging” investigation.

“Every once in a while the good guys win,” McDonald said. “I’m happy the Balaquits got justice today.”

The Crown argued for Pietz’s judicial interim release (bail) to be revoked now that he’s been convicted

Crown attorney Vanessa Gama told Justice Sadie Bond they will be seeking a life sentence.

Pietz’s lawyers argued he’s not a flight risk and his bail shouldn’t be revoked.

Justice Sadie Bond revoked Pietz’s bail and ordered him into the custody while awaiting sentencing.

McDonald said anyone who may have information on Balaquit’s whereabouts can contact the homicide unit at 204-986-6508.