Cornwall murder trial views video of police interview with Smeltzer

Brandon Smelter is on trial on a charge of first-degree murder in the 2018 death of Emilie Maheu.

Emilie Maheu was killed in October 2018. Brandon Smeltzer, the father of her daughter, Elizabeth, is on trial on a charge of first-degree murder.

CORNWALL — A recorded statement from the man accused of murdering an Alexandria woman was seen by the court Tuesday as he told police about their relationship and his version of events.

Brandon Smeltzer, from Bayside, N.S., was recorded during an interview with Ontario Provincial Police after Emilie Maheu, 26, was last seen alive on Oct. 11, 2018. Her body was found two days later, on Oct. 13, and Smeltzer was arrested and later confessed to killing her. He has denied planning the events that led to her death, but faces life imprisonment with no parole for at least 25 years if convicted of first-degree murder.

Judge Laurie Lacelle heard Tuesday from Maheu’s close friend, Karina Quesnel, in the second day of her cross-examination by defence counsel Paolo Giancaterino.

Quesnel confirmed that Smeltzer, Maheu’s former boyfriend, drove to Ontario to care for their daughter Elizabeth after Maheu’s appendix burst. She also confirmed the pair had at least two amicable visits after they separated and Maheu had moved back to Alexandria from Halifax, where the pair had lived with their daughter.

Giancaterino also questioned Quesnel about her testimony that Maheu moved in March 2018 because she was afraid of Smeltzer since there were only two messages between the pair about this. Quesnel said they spoke over the phone and video call.

The court was plagued by technical problems Tuesday, so a scheduled witness and interpreter were excused for the day. Instead, the court saw the interview Smeltzer gave after Maheu’s disappearance. He had been the last person to be with her and had come to her apartment the night before her disappearance, unannounced, and with no cellphone.

“I know how guilty it makes me look,” Smeltzer said in the video.

Sitting diagonally across from the interviewing officer, Smeltzer recounted his explanation to Maheu’s current boyfriend.

“If I was going to do something to Emilie, why wouldn’t I have done it last night, or Wednesday night, when I was sleeping over, and you both were asleep?” Smeltzer said.

Smeltzer said he told Maheu he was there to pay down her debts. Smeltzer also said he saw a home that he was thinking of buying and told Maheu he had Stage 4 prostate cancer.

“I’m a dead man. I’m gone by Christmas. I don’t want my daughter to have no one,” he said.

Smeltzer said it broke his heart when Maheu decided to move to Ontario and he let her do so.

“I’m not cold-hearted. If that’s where she wants to be, that’s where she wants to be,” Smeltzer told the OPP officer. “The reason I let her go? I didn’t want the (expletive) headache.”

Smeltzer said he fought with Maheu because of “nagging” and because he liked to spend the money he earned.

Smeltzer, who worked as a contractor for his father’s company, said that when Maheu and their daughter the pair left Nova Scotia, he began considering a move to Ontario to be with his daughter. Smeltzer said he did not want to move because he had no family in Ontario, did not enjoy the lifestyle and he was racist towards non-whites. Still, he sold his home in Halifax to make the move.

After a bad day at work, Smeltzer drove to Maheu’s apartment the night before she disappeared and slept on her couch. Maheu’s boyfriend was there, and he said they left Smeltzer alone while they went to work. Smeltzer said he told Maheu he was there to withdraw $6,000 to give to Maheu because her bank accounts were frozen. After Maheu was picked up from work by Smeltzer, she was not seen alive again.

Smeltzer said she refused to go to the bank with him and he dropped her off near Alexandria to pick up their daughter’s car seat. He said he did not know why she needed a car seat to go to the bank. Smeltzer said she was nervous about going with him because he had previously lied about paying for bills, so he left her and waited at the bank.

After 3:30 p.m., Smeltzer left and started the return trip to Nova Scotia, stopping several times for gas along the way. He said he had no idea where Maheu was, but wondered if she had gone to loan sharks for money as she had borrowed about $1,500 from friends.

Smeltzer also said he spoke to Maheu and family about what would happen to Elizabeth once he passed away from cancer and Maheu died.

“When I go, and years down the road, when something happens to her, what happens to Elizabeth?” he said.

It was decided that his sister, Shelby, would possibly take custody. Shelby attended Maheu’s residence one day after she disappeared and tried to take custody of Elizabeth, but was not allowed to do so.

The trial continues Wednesday.

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