Chilliwack’s most dramatic double-murder in recent history earned some measure of closure last week with a sentence of life in prison with no eligibility for parole for 13 years for killer Aaron Douglas.
Douglas murdered Tyler Belcourt in a downtown apartment in cold blood on Aug. 7, 2014, and at the same time attempted to kill Penni White who survived.
Richard Blackmon was also murdered in the incident.
For White’s attempted murder, Douglas was sentenced to six years, 11 months.
But friends and family of Blackmon continue to wait for justice as the jury that convicted Douglas of the second-degree murder of Belcourt and the attempted murder of White was unable to come to a verdict on the killing of Blackmon.
The B.C. Prosecution Service made the decision in the fall to re-try Douglas on the Blackmon murder. Jury selection for that trial is scheduled for Sept. 25, 2018 in BC Supreme Court in New Westminster, with a pre-trial conference set for Sept. 10.
After Blackmon and Belcourt were killed and White was injured that day in 2014, Douglas was on the lam for 49 days before being arrested in Abbotsford on Sept. 25, 2014.
Just two weeks before Belcourt and Blackmon were killed, in July 2014, Douglas’s lawyer Ken Beatch successfully got him off on an attempted murder charge after Beatch’s vigorous cross-examination of shooting victim Jeff Karpes forced Crown to drop the charges.
For local residents looking to witness some justice, they were out of luck as the trial of Douglas – notorious for being particularly cold-blooded in the local gang and drug community – was held in New Westminster.
After various court appearances on the murder charges, on Dec. 14, 2015 a BC Supreme Court justice in Chilliwack agreed with Beatch and his request to have the case moved to New Westminster.
At the hearing, Beatch said the jury trial should not be held in Chilliwack because it was a “high profile, notorious” case that had been on the front page of the local paper.
That trial on two counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder lasted 40 days with the charge to the jury wrapping up on June 26, 2017. The 11-person jury deliberated for two days before returning with the one guilty verdict on the lesser-included count of second-degree murder of Belcourt.
Murder comes with an automatic life sentence but the judge had to decide on parole eligibility of between 10 and 25 years. After the verdict, the jury was asked for their views and five recommended parole eligibility in 10 years, one recommended 15 years, one 20 years, and four had no recommendation.