Svekla trial begins
Published Tuesday, February 19, 2008 6:10PM MST
A packed courtroom greeted Thomas Svekla Tuesday as his trial got underway for the second-degree murder of two Edmonton prostitutes.
Sitting unshaven and bespectacled, Svekla looked impassive as the crown outlined their evidence. The trial is scheduled to last four months.
He is charged with two counts of second-degree murder and two counts of offering an indignity to a body in connection to the deaths of prostitutes Theresa Innes, 36, and Rachel Quinney, 19.
The 39-year-old got up in the courtroom and in a small voice declared that he is "not guilty."
As the trial got underway, the Quinney family sat quietly wearing black hoodies with her name, birth and death dates stitched on the back.
Crown prosecutor Ashley Findlayson told the court that more than 120 witnesses will testify to prove Svekla's connection to the murders.
"It's a circumstantial case," he said. "We do not have a confession."
Prosecutors also said they have many undercover recordings as evidence.
Police allege Innes' plastic-wrapped body was transported in a hockey bag from High Level, Alta., to the home of Svekla's sister in Fort Saskatchewan in May 2006.
Officers spent months investigating the man, seizing vehicles from a farm north of the city to gather evidence of the discovery of the prostitute's body.
Svekla reportedly moved to High Level in late 2005.
Even less information is known about the death of Rachel Quinney.
Investigators believe she was killed sometime between May 25 and June 11, 2004.
The 19-year-old's mutilated body was discovered in a wooded area near Sherwood Park in June 2004.
Project Kare first became involved in the case after Svekla allegedly led police to Quinney's body in 2004, claiming he stumbled upon it while smoking crack with another sex-trade worker.
Project Kare is an investigational unit created to examine the deaths of several "high risk" missing persons who have been found in the rural areas of Edmonton.
With files from David Ewasuk