OTTAWA – Zachary Wittke has been found guilty of murder after ramming a stolen truck in to the back of another vehicle killing 65-year-old grandmother Sheila Welsh on Daniel Street in Arnprior in 2017.
Witkke was in flight from police on Sept. 25, 2017 travelling from Pembroke when he detoured through Arnprior at high rates of speed eventually slamming in to the back of Welsh’s compact car as she was on her way to pick up her grandson.
On Thursday, Jan. 30 a jury in Ottawa found Wittke, 22, guilty of first-degree murder following a trial lasting just over a week.
During the trial, the jury saw evidence including a text Wittke wrote to a friend detailing the violent urges in his mind. They also saw a Facebook video he posted which contained a death threat.
“Thinking about killing people and myself every day,” he wrote adding he had to act on it before it drove him “nuts.”
Welsh’s son Jason had driven by the crash moments after rushing his son to hockey not understanding the full extent of the scene before him. He received a call from his sister Sarah who was worried something was up because their mother was never late but hadn’t picked up her son.
Jason left the Nick Smith Centre and drove to the nearby scene.
“I saw a grey car and I was hoping that it was not mom’s car, no it’s not mom’s car, but then I came to the unthinkable conclusion that it was her car,” Jason said in his victim impact statement moments after the guilty verdict. “She was the one that was still in the car, dead behind the wheel.”
Wittke, now facing a life sentence with no parole eligibility for 25 years, took the stand in his own defence during the trial and said he wanted to kill himself, and nobody else. He testified that his glasses flew off in all his mad driving and he closed his eyes moments before deliberately slamming into what he thought was a construction barrier.