Fearing for his life, a Red Deer man helped clean up blood following the brutal murder of Sheldon Mark Hiller a year ago, a Red Deer court heard Tuesday.
Charles Richard Beckett, 48, was sentenced to two years in jail, satisfied by time served, after pleading guilty to accessory after the fact to murder in Court of Queen’s Bench. Beckett has been in jail for a year.
Justice Jim Foster heard that Beckett, a frail man who subsists on a disability pension, was “duped” into accompanying three other men, including Hiller, 46, for a ride from Red Deer to the Raven area on April 16, 2007.
Hiller’s body was discovered the next morning in a ditch near Raven.
He had been stabbed numerous times in the chest and torso. His throat had been slit and a knife driven up through his chin into his brain, an agreed statement of facts read by the court and prepared by Crown prosecutor Anders Quist and defence lawyer Arnold Piragoff.
Foster heard that both Hiller and Beckett were destined to be killed that night.
The statement said Beckett was invited to accompany the other three to drive Hiller to visit a family member near Calgary in a borrowed Lincoln.
One of the men was adamant Beckett accompany them by riding in the rear seat with Hiller.
They first stopped at a mobile home where one of the men returned from a room and stabbed Hiller in the legs with two knives.
All four had been drinking beer.
Hiller, the statement reads, asked the man who stabbed him why and said “he had already been punished for something before and he had kept his mouth shut.”
They returned to the car and drove again. However, Hiller said they were going in the wrong direction and complained about his injuries.
They stopped again at a garage where one of the front-seat men retrieved a short sledgehammer, long-handled ice chipper, pliers, cloth sheet and mats.
Beckett then helped put the sheet under Hiller who was dripping blood.
Hiller complained that he wasn’t getting enough beer at which point the two front seat men stopped the car and ordered Hiller out.
He was followed by the two suspects while Beckett remained inside.
One of the men returned to the car and told Beckett to “get that drunk back into the car.”
Beckett saw Hiller lying on the road being kicked by the other man who then dragged Hiller’s body into the ditch.
The other accused returned to Hiller’s body and was seen making motions with his arms.
He returned to the car and gave Beckett a bloody knife to wipe off.
Beckett was told by one of the suspects “You know that you were not supposed to come back from this trip either. We brought you along because you are a witness to us leaving the hotel.”
Beckett was also told he should be with Hiller in the ditch but the other suspect intervened in his favour.
Beckett was ordered to wipe up blood in the car before the trio drove off to Red Deer.
Piragoff told court Beckett fully co-operated with RCMP recently and gave a full confession.
Beckett had been also charged with first-degree murder but it was stayed Monday at the start of a week-long preliminary hearing for one of the suspects.
Quist said later the Crown didn’t have enough evidence to get a murder conviction against Beckett.
Piragoff said later his client was never promised anything by authorities for co-operating.
Beckett has been subpoenaed to testify at both preliminary hearings for the accused who are being tried separately.
The remaining suspects have been in custody since their arrests shortly after the murder.
A stay means a charge is held in limbo for a set period or forever.
Larry Allen Scott, 53, of Red Deer, is charged with first-degree murder and being an accessory after the fact to murder. He is having his preliminary this week.
Brent William Crouse, 44, of Calgary, is also charged with first-degree murder and being an accessory after the fact to murder. His preliminary is June 25-27 and June 30-31.
A preliminary is held to determine if there’s enough evidence to warrant an accused be tried in Queen’s Bench.
A publication ban on the facts was issued by Judge David Plosz for Scott’s preliminary.