Second trial for man charged with murdering wife in Revelstoke will stay in Kamloops

KAMLOOPS - A new trial for a New Zealand man charged with the murder of his wife will be held in Kamloops, despite an application to have the proceedings moved elsewhere.

Peter Beckett, born in 1961, is charged with first degree murder in the drowning death of his wife Laura Letts. The drowning happened at Upper Arrow Lake near Revelstoke on Aug. 18, 2010.

A mistrail was declared in April after the jury in the three month long trial was unable to reach consensus on a verdict. After the hung jury, Beckett's lawyer Marilyn Sandford filed an application to have the trial moved to a different location.

In Kamloops Supreme Court today, Oct. 26, Associate Chief Justice Austin Cullen denied that application.

In his decision, Cullen said that defence counsel cited over-exposed pre-trial media coverage as one of the reasons for a relocation. A local newspaper had published a piece of evidence that was deemed inadmissible for trial. Beckett was unrepresented before the case went to trial and disclosed information about his case and Crown's case against him to media.

Cullen told the court the lack of a Kamloops connection to the case means it's very likely Beckett will receive a fair trial in the community. He said there was also no graphic details published in any of the stories, which could have swayed potential jurors.

Cullen said Beckett's state of health is also a concern. Court heard Beckett weighs about 400 lbs., has diabetes and coronary heart disease. Cullen is worried the accused could become distressed if he needed to travel a long distance for his second trial.

Lawyers will be back in court next month to schedule a date for a new trial.


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