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OPINION: A Chilliwack murder that will never see justice

Charges were quietly dropped against the man who killed Richard Blackmon in 2014
Aaron Douglas was convicted of the murder of Tyler Belcourt and the attempted murder of Penni White, but a jury could not decide on guilty for the murder of Richard Blackmon in 2014. A retrial was scheduled but the public prosecution service quietly dropped the charge in September 2019. (RCMP file)

The man who killed Richard Blackmon will almost certainly never face justice for the crime.

On Aug. 7, 2014, Blackmon, 38, and Tyler Belcourt, 36, were gunned down and killed in cold blood in an apartment on Gore Avenue. Also shot in the neck in the incident was Penni White, who survived.

The prime suspect was Aaron Douglas who fled and was on the lam for 49 days before he was arrested in Abbotsford on Sept. 25, 2014.

Douglas was charged with the first-degree murder of both men and the attempted murder of White. He faced a 40-day jury trial at the end of which, and after a two-day jury deliberation, he was found guilty of the lesser included second-degree murder of Belcourt and of the attempted killing of White.

But for some some unknown reason – because deliberations are secret – the 11-person jury was unable to come to a verdict on the Blackmon killing. There is no question about whether Douglas shot and killed Blackmon, in fact that came out in testimony that Blackmon lunged at Douglas and he shot him. Despite the fact that he brought a gun to an apartment, Douglas testified it was in self-defence.

Richard Blackmon was shot and killed by Aaron Douglas in 2014. A jury could not decide whether Douglas was guilty in the case, and Crown dropped the charges in 2019. (Facebook group Messages To & Memories Of Richard Francis Blackmon)

Douglas was convicted of the second-degree murder of Belcourt. Evidence showed that Belcourt died of a single gunshot wound to the head, although Douglas testified that if he did that it was by accident.

It is possible the jury became deadlocked between whether Blackmon’s killing was first- or second-degree murder and so they could come to no consensus. The jury did not believe shooting Belcourt was an accident.

Nevertheless, all this is to say that the B.C. Prosecution Service decided in October 2017 to re-try Douglas on the Blackmon count.

READ MORE: Life in prison for Chilliwack murderer Aaron Douglas

READ MORE: Chilliwack’s Aaron Douglas to be retried for first-degree murder

While I attempt to pay attention to most serious cases in Chilliwack court, it’s really impossible. It didn’t help that Douglas’s first trial was in New Westminster and after a while, I suppose the case slipped my mind. And I never saw his name on a court list again.

Recently someone asked me, whatever happened to the case? Good question, I agreed. I inquired with the B.C. Prosecution Service who told me that the retrial was stayed on Sept. 13, 2019. “Stayed” is legal jargon for dropping a charge.

It’s very hard to report on what is not happening, because no one announces nothing.

I’ve spent a fair amount of time over the last decade trying to pull back the curtain of opacity that hides the inner workings of our criminal justice system in British Columbia, specifically mostly here in Chilliwack. It’s not easy, and I can relate countless examples of how the system is not designed for the general public to navigate and understand.

That’s not an excuse, but it is a reason.

As for the case against Douglas in Blackmon’s killing, it is essentially closed though there is never truly a “closed” case, just cold. In December, I reported on the case of Tzeachten member Evelyn Fisher who was murdered in Miramar, Florida, in 1980. Because of advances in DNA technology, 43 years later, Ronald Eugene Richards was charged with killing her.

There are also a number of Chilliwack homicides where no one has come to justice in recent years. To name one a year since I’ve been at The Progress: Michael D’Lerma (2022), Adam Ball (2021), Stuart Schellenberg (2020), James Vidal (2019), Cody Isaacson (2018), and Yee Hung Chin (2017).

No one has been charged in any of those cases, which are getting colder by the day.

I do also keep a long list of RCMP file numbers based on cases that were reported to us or that we otherwise found out about. I occasionally search to see if charges laid in those, and once in a while I get a hit.

Maybe I’m naive, but sometimes I’m baffled by the delays in laying charges by the Crown in cases where the evidence and the accused are out in the open. For example, I’m thinking here of the July 24, 2022 assault caught on video on the Vedder River; the May 31, 2022 beating of two young people outside a Yarrow convenience store; and the allegedly drunk driver who killed a young woman on a skateboard in Rosedale on Aug. 1, 2022.

If you are ever wondering about a past case we have reported on but not updated, feel free to let me know.

We can’t keep track of everything and news tips are always welcome. Email me,

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Aaron Douglas being arrested in Abbotsford on Sept. 25, 2014 after 49 days on the lam. He was convicted of killing Tyler Belcourt and attempted murder of Penni White but a jury couldn’t decide if he killed Richard Blackmon. (Kevin MacDonald/Black Press file)