Hung jury in Beckett trial

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Peter Beckett.
Peter Beckett.

After a trial spanning four months and deliberations over seven days, the jury tasked with deciding the fate of a former Napier City councillor accused of drowning his wife in a British Columbia, Canada lake could not come to a unanimous verdict.

Peter Beckett's jury returned hung, less than four hours after passing a note to British Columbia Supreme Court Justice Ian Meiklem saying they were at an impasse. In the end, one dissenting voice caused the mistrial.

"Totally predictable," Beckett told media just before the hung jury, by that point a foregone conclusion, was made official.

Beckett, 59, still stands accused of the first-degree murder of his wife, Laura Letts-Beckett, who drowned in Upper Arrow Lake near Revelstoke on August 18, 2010.

Prosecutors allege he killed his wife out of greed, hoping to cash in on life-insurance as well as her teachers' pension.

Beckett, meanwhile, maintained Lett-Beckett's death was either suicide or an accident.

The court heard Letts-Beckett went into the water while she and Beckett were on an evening boat ride near Shelter Bay Provincial Park campground.

In her 90-minute closing submission to the jury, defence lawyer Donna Turko pointed out a lack of physical evidence connecting Beckett to his wife's death.

"This is purely a circumstantial case. Imagine if you were found guilty of murder simply because you were present for the demise of your spouse ... in this case, there isn't a smoking gun."

Turko attempted to poke holes in the Crown's theory on motive, saying Letts-Beckett handled all of the insurance paperwork in the relationship and that the amount of money in question was only enough to cover outstanding debts.

In its closing, the Crown meticulously detailed a number of inconsistencies in Beckett's various statements to police and other witnesses.Prosecutor Sarah Firestone said the totality of the inconsistencies mean Beckett killed his wife. "All of his lies demonstrate that he is responsible for getting her in the water and keeping her there until she drowned," Firestone said.

A new trial has yet to be scheduled.

- Kamloops This Week

- Hawkes Bay Today

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