Second murder trial for New Zealand man begins in Kelowna

The first-degree murder trial for a New Zealand man accused of killing his Albertan wife in Revelstoke 7 years ago has begun in a Kelowna courtroom.

It's the second jury trial for Peter Beckett, whose first trial in Kamloops last year, ended in a hung jury.

In August 2010, Beckett and his wife Laura Letts-Beckett were boating in Upper Arrow Lake when she drowned. Beckett was charged in her death a year later and has been in custody ever since.

During its opening statement, the Crown revealed that Beckett had applied for accidental death insurance for him and his wife, two months before she died. 

“Mr. Beckett believed that with his wife dead he was entitled to her inheritance, from her parents,” said Crown counsel Evan Goulet “her parents are wealthy, elderly, cattle ranchers in Alberta.”  

The first crown witness was Letts-Beckett's will lawyer, Raymond Barlow, who testified that Peter Beckett had come to his office after Letts-Beckett's death, asking for her most recent will from 2007 and her prior will from 1995, both of which listed Letts-Beckett’s parents as the only beneficiaries.

“He was very unhappy and he wanted a confrontation or an argument,” said Barlow.

When he came back to his office after making copies of the wills, Barlow testified Beckett was rifling through his files.

“I told him to leave my office immediately and to only deal with me through a lawyer.”

Another witness who will testify during the trial includes Beckett’s former cell mate who says Beckett asked him to physically harm witnesses ahead of his first trial.

Beckett was a city councillor in Napier, New Zealand for one-term in the 90's before moving to Canada.

The trial is expected to last 4 weeks.