Jury considers fate of man accused of drowning his wife
The jury tasked with deciding whether Peter Beckett is guilty of killing his wife is now deliberating.
Beckett is charged with first-degree murder in the death of his wife Laura Letts-Beckett, who drowned in Upper Arrow Lake near Revelstoke during a camping trip in August 2010.
Beckett is a former city councillor in Napier, New Zealand, while Letts-Beckett was working as a teacher at Dapp Elementary School in Alberta at the time of her death.
The couple lived in the nearby town of Westlock.
Beckett was arrested and charged with murder one year after the incident. He has been in custody since.
Last year, Beckett was on trial for the same charge in Kamloops, but it ended in a mistrial after the jury could not come to a consensus.
The Kelowna trial began Aug. 21 and wrapped up with closing arguments from the Crown on Tuesday.
Justice Alison Beames gave her instructions to the jury that afternoon, and the jury began deliberating at 4:15 p.m.
Twice during the three-week trial, defence lawyer Marilyn Sandford applied for a mistrial.
In the first week, Sandford took issue with the testimony of one of the Crown’s witnesses, a former cellmate of Beckett’s whose name is protected by a publication ban because he was working as a police informant.
The witness said Beckett offered to pay him to “take care of witnesses.” Then he went on to provide some details about what Beckett wanted him to do, including taking witnesses out “MVA style” and torching the house of Letts-Beckett’s parents.
Beames did not grant the application for a mistrial, but she did order the jury to disregard the comments about the MVA style and the torching of the home.
The next week, after the Crown finished its case, Sandford filed another application for a directed verdict, requesting the dismissal of the case because of a lack of evidence.
The application was dismissed and the trial continued.
The Crown argues Beckett took his wife to a secluded cove on Upper Arrow Lake to push her into the water and kill her so he could cash in her life insurance policy and get at her inheritance.
Beckett, who pleaded not guilty to the murder charge, says Letts-Beckett either fell in accidentally or slipped into the water on purpose.