Crown seeks appeal before Supreme Court of Canada in 2010 wife murder trial

Murder trial sent to top court

A man accused of murdering his wife back in 2010 in the B.C. Interior may face a third trial, this time before the Supreme Court of Canada.

The BC Prosecution Service confirmed Tuesday it has filed leave to appeal the overturning of the first-degree murder conviction for Peter Becket. 

After three weeks of trial and four days of deliberation, Peter Beckett was convicted in September 2017 by a 12-person jury in Kelowna of deliberately drowning his wife Laura Letts-Beckett on the evening of Aug. 18, 2010.

That conviction was overturned in September by the BC Court of Appeal over concerns about how certain evidence was admitted during the trial, including “inherently unreliable demeanour evidence" – how an accused acted during an event.

The Appeals Court ruled that this “invited the jury to engage in improper speculation.”

During that trial, the Crown said Beckett was motivated to kill his wife by a $200,000 accidental death insurance policy the couple had previously bought, and Beckett's repeated interest in his wife's will before her death.

The Alberta couple had been vacationing on Upper Arrow Lake in August 2010, when Letts-Beckett drowned as the couple was boating one evening.

The 2017 trial was Beckett's second, after his first trial in 2016, in Kamloops, ended in a hung jury.

In her decision overturning the conviction, Appeals judge Lauri Ann Fenlon said the Crown's case against Beckett was "not strong," and questioned whether it was "in the interests of justice" to have a third trial. She noted that the case against Beckett was “entirely circumstantial” and lacking forensic evidence.

Beckett has been in custody since his arrest in 2011.

The Supreme Court of Canada still has to decide if it will hear the appeal.

with files from Nicholas Johansen

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