'Did you bomb Iris's house?': witness in Guido Amsel trial testifies about conversation with accused
Guido Amsel's divorce with his ex-wife Iris left him "upset to the point of shaking" an attempted murder trial heard from witness Ollie Ehrmantraut Friday morning.
Ehrmantraut, a mechanic, former coworker and friend of Guido and Iris Amsel, is the owner of an auto repair shop on Washington Avenue where a letter bomb was sent with Iris's name on it.
Amsel has pleaded not guilty to five counts of attempted murder and several explosives related charges after letter bombs were sent to two Winnipeg law offices and his ex-wife’s workplace in July 2015. Amsel is also being tried on charges in connection with an explosion at his ex-wife’s home in 2013.
Ehrmantraut told court another man who worked at his shop, Kevin McKenzie, had received the mail on Thursday, July 2 and brought the package over to an area in the shop where Ehrmantraut was working.
“It said Ollie’s Auto and it said Iris Amsel,” Ehrmantraut testified.
He told court he “flexed” the package and was “bending it” and “waving” beside his head before McKenzie took it to Iris’s workplace at James Automotive to drop it off, although court heard Iris was out of town at the time.
Court has previously heard police safely detonated the package on July 4th and no one was hurt.
Ollie’s Auto, located at 599 Washington Ave., was a neighbouring business about 150 feet away from James Automotive at 597 Washington Ave, Ehrmantraut told Judge Tracey Lord.
Ehrmantraut told court it didn’t make sense that the package was sent to his shop because “everybody knew Iris wasn’t at my shop.”
“We looked at it and the letter looked like chicken scratch,” Ehrmantraut testified.
He said he and McKenzie joked that it looked like “kids writing, like Guido’s writing.”
“I’ve known Guido for years,” Ehrmantraut testified. “We’ve written, talked. The shoe fit.”
During cross-examination Amsel’s lawyer Saheel Zaman called into question Ehrmantraut’s testimony based on prior statements given to police.
“Did you sir not tell Kevin McKenzie that you weren’t sure whether you thought it was Guido’s writing or not,” said Zaman.
“I don’t recall saying what you’re saying. No,” Ehrmantraut replied.
‘Did you bomb Iris’s house?’: Witness testifies about conversation with accused
Ehrmantraut testified he became friends with Guido Amsel several years ago when Guido and Iris helped Ehrmantraut start his own automotive business at a different location in the city.
“They fed me. I didn’t know anybody,” Ehrmantraut told court. “They gave me the work.”
He told court he and Guido had a falling out but eventually became friends again, calling Guido “one of the smartest people I know.”
Ehrmantraut told court after Guido and Iris separated, Guido talked to Ehrmantraut about how “millions of dollars were taken away” from him and how “everybody was against him.”
“After Iris Amsel and Guido Amsel had split that’s when all the talking started,” Ehrmantraut told court. “It was something you could tell hurt him personally."
Ehrmantraut testified he couldn’t recall the exact date when he and Guido were sport shooting off of highway 44 and he asked Guido about the 2013 explosion at Iris’s house.
Ehrmantraut testified he asked Guido, “Did you bomb Iris’s house?”
He told court “there was no yes. No no. It was almost a blank off stare but no response,” which Ehrmantraut thought was an unusual response for Guido.
“Guido’s the kind of guy who would just tell you straight up.”
Ehrmantraut told court Amsel then asked him, “If the first time misses, do you think the second time would miss.”
Ehrmantraut testified he didn’t ask Guido any more questions about the incident.
“I’m not going to sit there and try and force him to say something.”
Amsel’s lawyer challenges witness testimony
During cross-examination, Amsel’s lawyer once again challenged Ehrmantraut’s testimony.
“Did you have any other conversation with Mr. Amsel about the 2013 incident with Iris Amsel?” Zaman asked.
Ehrmantraut replied, “Not to my recollection.”
“Does that mean you’re not certain? There’s a possibility there could’ve been other conversations?”
“I’m actually going to change that to no. I don’t remember having any other conversations other than the conversation I had.”
Zaman later asked Ehrmantraut if he remembered the year the conversation occurred.
“2014, 2015,” Ehrmantraut testified. “In all honesty I don’t pay attention to time.”
“I know it wasn’t winter. I can’t remember to tell you the honest truth.”
“I take it being a close friend you would’ve contacted police or contacted Iris to let her know,” Zaman asked.
Ehrmantraut testified he didn’t contact police about the conversation he had with Amsel and can’t remember whether or not he told Iris.
“Police were already investigating,” Ehrmantraut told court. “I’m assuming police were on top their jobs.”
The trial is scheduled to continue Tuesday.