KELOWNA – There was more colourful and candid testimony today from a career-criminal-turned-informant at a Kelowna Supreme Court first-degree murder trial.
Alberta resident Peter Beckett, born 1961, is on trial for the first-degree murder of his wife Laura Letts-Beckett in 2010.
Beckett’s lawyers say she fell overboard while on a fishing vacation near Revelstoke Aug. 18, 2010, and despite efforts by him to save her, she drowned.
Crown says Beckett, who is originally from New Zealand, murdered her for life insurance money, a condo in Alberta and her inheritance. Then, while awaiting trial in prison, tried to have witnesses threatened and even killed.
One of Crown’s key witnesses is a man Beckett shared a jail cell with, a man who admits to having “shady” friends, a connection to Hells Angels and a long list of criminal convictions going back to the 1980s. His identity is protected by a publication ban.
On Tuesday, Crown asked him about conversations he had with Beckett in their cell.
He told the jury Beckett asked him repeatedly how much it would cost to have some witnesses to his case “taken care of.” He also talked about an alleged plot to change Letts-Beckett’s will to benefit him.
Crown lawyer Iain Currie led the witness through the sequence of events surrounding the death, as told by Beckett, as well as the conversations the two had in jail prior to Sept. 20.
Currie asked the witness what Beckett said he did when he noticed his wife had fallen overboard.
“After he seen his wife flailing underwater, he tried to grab her but he was too buoyant so he made it back to shore, grabbed a rock and he was going to use it as weight so he could sink down low enough to get her.”
Currie also read portions of the letter the witness sent to police detailing the conversations he had with Beckett.
In it, the witness says Beckett asked "how much of a retainer do you need to ‘fix’ the problem."
“Beckett said if I could shake up (the Letts family lawyer), trunk him and have this will brought back to its natural state, that we could live comfy for the rest of our life,” the witness said in the letter.
To ‘trunk’ someone, he said, is to put them in the trunk of a vehicle against their will as a means of intimidation.
“I know a few people who have been trunked,” the witness testified.
Beckett already faced trial in Kamloops last year, however the jury there was unable to reach a verdict.
The trial continues for the next several weeks during which time Crown plans to call a total of 19 witnesses.
To contact a reporter for this story, email Adam Proskiw or call 250-718-0428 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.
We welcome your comments and opinions on our stories but play nice. We won't censor or delete comments unless they contain off-topic statements or links, unnecessary vulgarity, false facts, spam or obviously fake profiles. If you have any concerns about what you see in comments, email the editor in the link above.