Murder victim’s son and sister testify at faint hope trial
After a week of hearing evidence about the rehabilitation of convicted murderer Nancy McKinnon, the jury deciding whether she should have a shot at parole got their first glimpse of life after execution of her estranged husband was “shattered”. Nick Maradyn.
“The execution of Nick Maradyn was a family shock,” District Attorney Shane Parker said in his opening statement to the jury.
“Nancy Lee McKinnon was not the victim of this story, she is responsible for writing this tragedy.”
At the time of the murder, Maradyn and McKinnon’s son was just nine years old. On Monday, both he and Maradyn’s sister – who later adopted her nephew – testified at McKinnon’s faint hope upon hearing of the trauma they had experienced since the murder.
McKinnon, 52, and her former boyfriend Joey Bruso were convicted of first-degree murder in 2003 in the 2003 death of Maradyn, who was lured to a remote area and shot in the head. McKinnon and Bruso were sentenced to life in prison without parole for 25 years.
Now, after serving 19 years and seven months of her life sentence, McKinnon is facing a jury for a faint hope hearing in hopes of convincing the panel to allow her to serve one before her 25-year incarceration period to apply for parole.
Last week, McKinnon’s attorneys, James McLeod and James Wyman, presented evidence showing the convicted killer is a changed woman and deserves a chance to go before the parole board and ask for an early release.
On Monday, prosecutors opened their case by addressing the jury, calling the convicted killer “Inmate McKinnon” and describing her as having “manipulative and insidious traits.”
Parker told the jury they had to answer one question: “Do it [McKinnon] deserve a debt relief she owes for orchestrating a cold-blooded execution?”
Prosecutors will argue that they don’t.
On June 14, 2003, McKinnon and Bruso lured Maradyn to a secluded location off Highway 2A near Crossfield. When he arrived, Bruso shot the victim with a recently purchased high-powered hunting rifle.
The murder took place just 10 days before Maradyn’s divorce with McKinnon was finalized. Within 48 hours of his death, McKinnon attempted to make claims on his insurance policies.
She and Bruso were arrested two weeks after the murder.
The first two witnesses for the crown on Monday were Maradyn’s younger sister Vicky Maradyn and his son, a man now 29, whose name is protected under a publication ban because he was a child when his father was killed.
CBC News will identify him as Jake.
“I missed life”
Overcome with emotion, Jake fought to speak while wiping tears from his eyes. He described a childhood where his father coached his hockey teams and took him camping.
Jake’s life was derailed by the loss of both parents.
“I feel like I missed life, I had to grow up when I was nine,” Jake said.
When a parent is capable of “the worst thing imaginable” that a stranger could do, Jake said when asked if he was in a relationship.
“I would never want to bring children into this world, I would never want them to have the bloodline that I have,” he said.
“Life seems almost meaningless.”
Jake was “cruelly” molested at school
The 29-year-old hadn’t seen his mother since he was nine. And he didn’t want to.
The night his father was killed, Jake was left sleeping alone in his father’s house. The 2004 trial judge found that McKinnon called Maradyn asking for help after a car accident, and he drove to pick her up.
Maradyn never returned and Jake woke up alone.
In addition to the trauma of his father’s murder, Jake also had to deal with middle school classmates who found out about his mother’s murder conviction and tormented him about it.
The harassment, Jake’s aunt said, was “so incredibly cruel.”
“She was my rock”
Jake did not graduate from high school and is struggling with health problems.
In her statement, Vicky Maradyn said her brother loved being a father, but says she felt Maradyn was “tortured” in his marriage to McKinnon. Vicky testified that she encouraged her brother to leave McKinnon.
They became even closer when Maradyn and McKinnon broke up.
After his death, Vicky said her main concern was her nephew.
“Once [McKinnon and Bruso] arrested, I felt like some of the things were done by the professionals,” Maradyn said.
She focused on getting custody of Jake and adopting him.
“It was a labor of love, but it’s just not easy … but I just loved him so much.”
When asked about his relationship with his aunt, Jake replied, “She was my rock.”