The trial of a man charged with manslaughter in the killing of Eduardo Balaquit has been put on hold for five days after two more jurors tested positive for COVID-19 Wednesday morning.

The trial of a man charged with manslaughter in the killing of Eduardo Balaquit has been put on hold for five days after two more jurors tested positive for COVID-19 Wednesday morning.

“They have not been discharged, they have just been asked to go home,” Queen’s Bench Justice Sadie Bond told the remaining jurors. “We are not going to proceed with the trial today in these circumstances.”

<p>Eduardo Balaquit disappeared June 4, 2018. (Free Press files)</p>

Eduardo Balaquit disappeared June 4, 2018. (Free Press files)

The development reduces the number of jurors on the jury to 11, down from 14 on Monday, the opening day of the trial. One juror was replaced by an alternate on Monday, after one juror reported he had tested positive for the virus. On Tuesday, another juror tested positive and was discharged. The remaining 13 jurors were provided with rapid tests, all tested negative and the trial resumed.

Jurors have been told to return to court Tuesday, at which time they will all be provided with rapid tests.

“In the interim, I am going to ask that you self-monitor your symptoms and continue to self-administer the tests,” Bond said.

Balaquit, 59, disappeared June 4, 2018, after leaving home for Westcon Equipment and Rentals on Keewatin Street, where he had a long-standing contract as a cleaner. His body has never been found.

Kyle Pietz, a former employee at Westcon, is accused of killing Balaquit during a course of a robbery.

Jurors heard Tuesday police found Balaquit’s 2012 Dodge Caravan in a parking lot of a neighbouring business, with its passenger door window smashed out.

Pietz, 36, remains free on bail.

dean.pritchard@freepress.mb.ca

Dean Pritchard

Dean Pritchard
Courts reporter

Someone once said a journalist is just a reporter in a good suit. Dean Pritchard doesn’t own a good suit. But he knows a good lawsuit.