A BC Supreme Court jury decided Wednesday that Aaron Douglas is guilty of murdering Tyler Belcourt and attempting to murder Penni White in downtown Chilliwack in 2014.
But there is still some uncertainty as the 11-person jury could not come to a decision on whether or not Douglas killed Richard Blackmon in the same incident.
Crown counsel Christopher McPherson said Thursday his office had not yet decided whether to proceed with a new trial on the Blackmon murder charge or to drop it.
Douglas was charged with first-degree murder of both Blackmon and Belcourt, and the jury came back with the lesser-included conviction of second-degree murder for Belcourt, which comes with an automatic life sentence.
He is next due in court July 13 for sentencing on the White attempted murder, and to fix a date for the parole eligibility hearing on Belcourt. The sentence is life, but the Justice has to determine whether Douglas should be eligible for parole in somewhere between 10 and 25 years.
McPherson said the jury was asked for their views on that and five recommended parole eligibility in 10 years, one recommended 15 years, one 20 years, and four had no recommendation.
“The judge has to consider that but he is not bound by their recommendations,” McPherson said.
The case involved the Aug. 7, 2014 killing of Blackmon and Belcourt in an apartment on Gore Avenue. The trial lasted 40 days with the charge to the jury wrapping up on June 26. They deliberated for two days before returning with the verdict Wednesday.
After Blackmon and Belcourt were killed that day in 2014, Douglas was on the lam for 49 days before being arrested in Abbotsford on Sept. 25.
On Sept. 25, 2014 at about 4:30 p.m., Abbotsford Police officers and members of the emergency response team surrounded a home on Rainbow Avenue. When Douglas failed to leave, they launched several flash-bang distraction devices and activated their sirens. The officers also tossed canisters of gas into both the front and the back of the house.
Douglas finally came out, crawling on his hands and knees, at about 6:45 p.m. and was arrested.
After various court appearances, on Dec. 14, 2015 a BC Supreme Court justice in Chilliwack agreed with defence lawyer Ken Beatch’s request to have the case moved to New Westminster. At the hearing, Beatch said the jury trial should not be held in Chilliwack because the “high profile, notorious” case had been on the front page of the local paper.
Crown Counsel Allan Mandell said he didn’t object to moving the trial to New Westminster, in part because of better security availability in that courthouse.
Douglas has been in custody for approximately 33 months, so if he is given the standard credit for time-and-a-half served, he will get credit for nearly 50 months or more than four years.
Just two weeks before the downtown murder, in July 2014, Douglas had an attempted murder charge dropped in BC Supreme Court on a different alleged crime.
Two days after shooting victim Jeff Karpes testified in court, Crown Counsel took a guilty plea from Douglas on a weapons charge and stayed the attempted murder charge. Karpes’ testimony proved to be inconsistent and unreliable upon cross examination by defence lawyer Ken Beatch.