First-degree murder charges against Travis Vader, the man accused of murdering an elderly St. Albert couple, have been stayed by the crown.

Vader, 41, had been charged with two counts of first-degree murder relating to the deaths of Lyle and Marie McCann, who went missing in 2010.

During a publication ban hearing Wednesday, crown prosecutor Michelle Doyle stood up and announced the two charges of first-degree murder were being stayed.

When asked whether the defence was surprised by the news, Vader's lawyer Brian Beresh said that was an understatement. 

Vader's trial was scheduled to begin on April 28 and was expected to last six weeks.

Outside the courtroom, the crown wouldn't comment on the decision.

Michelle Davio, from Alberta Justice and Solicitor General Communications, later issued a statement.

"The Crown has a duty to continuously reassess its case and ensure that, based upon the known evidence as a whole, there is always a reasonable likelihood of conviction. The Crown may not continue a prosecution unless it has had the opportunity to conduct this review, particularly if additional information is provided to it by the police investigators. In this instance, we cannot say more until the prosecution is finally concluded."

After the hearing, Vader's lawyer told CTV News that he believes RCMP rushed their case against his client.

"I have worked on this man's case now for a number of months and my professional assessment is that there was, not now, nor was there ever, a realistic or serious chance of any conviction. From my analysis, it appears that police rushed to a judgement very quickly without any solid basis, and they never solidified that position."

Beresh went on to say that while Vader was looking forward to proving his innocence, he will always be seen as guilty in the public eye thanks to the public indictment by RCMP.

The McCann's were last seen on July 3, 2010 on the first day of a roadtrip to British Columbia. Their burned motorhome was found near Edson two days later. Their bodies have never been found.

Beresh accuses the RCMP of doing a poor job gathering evidence in the case.

"It was shoddily gathered and it was a bunch of strings that were never tied together."

The crown can reinstate the charges within a year, if new evidence is brought forward. 

Travis Vader will remain in custody on unrelated charges.