Aaron Douglas to be re-tried for 2014 murder of Richard Blackmon

Convicted of Tyler Belcourt killing in Chilliwack but first jury undecided on Blackmon file

Friends and family of Richard Blackmon have to wait at least one more year for justice as a new trial has been scheduled for his alleged killer.

In June, a BC Supreme Court jury in New Westminster decided that Aaron Douglas was guilty of murdering Tyler Belcourt and attempting to murder Penni White in downtown Chilliwack in 2014.

READ MORE: Canada wide warrant issued for double murder suspect

What that jury could not decide was whether Douglas killed Blackmon in the same incident in an apartment building on Gore Avenue on Aug. 7, 2014.

Douglas was charged with first-degree murder of both Blackmon and Belcourt, and the 11-person jury came back with the lesser-included conviction of second-degree murder for Belcourt, which comes with an automatic life sentence.

Back in June, Crown counsel Christopher McPherson said his office had not yet decided whether to proceed with a new trial on the Blackmon murder charge or to drop the charge.

McPherson confirmed this week the B.C. Prosecution Service has now decided to re-try Douglas on the Blackmon count. Jury selection for that second trial is scheduled for Sept. 25, 2018 in BC Supreme Court in New Westminster.

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.

READ MORE: Chilliwack double-murder suspect arrested in Abbotsford

On Sept. 25, 2014 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 Douglas’s lawyer Ken 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 the “high profile, notorious” case had been on the front page of the local paper.

The trial lasted 40 days with the charge to the jury wrapping up on June 26. They deliberated for two days before returning with their verdict.

Douglas has not yet been sentenced but a sentencing hearing on the attempted murder of White and a parole eligibility hearing concerning the second-degree murder of Belcourt is scheduled for Dec. 21 and 22.

Murder comes with an automatic life sentence but the judge must decide on parole eligibility between 10 and 25 years. McPherson said 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.

Just two weeks before the Belcourt and Blackmon were killed, 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 Douglas’s lawyer Beatch.


@PeeJayAitch
paul.henderson@theprogress.com

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Aaron Douglas being arrested in Abbotsford in September 2014 after 49 days on the lam. (Kevin McDonald file) Aaron Douglas being arrested in Abbotsford in 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 file)

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