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Chilliwack man gets prison time for 'cowardly' hammer attack

Chilliwack courthouse - File photo
Chilliwack courthouse
— image credit: File photo

A Chilliwack man convicted in a brutal hammer attack that left the victim with a fractured skull was sentenced to three-and-a-half-years in prison last week.

Jerry Lee Elliott was ordered to give a DNA sample, handed a lifetime firearms prohibition in addition to the 1,304-day jail term ordered by Judge Russell MacKay.

Elliott was convicted a year ago of aggravated assault and uttering threats in the Chilliwack River Road beating of Douglas Hiatt.

In handing down his decision in April 2013, MacKay called the attack “vicious, senseless and cowardly.”

At trial, MacKay had heard that Hiatt stopped his vehicle on Chilliwack River Road on Oct. 29, 2010, only to be set upon by two men.

He identified one of those men as Elliott, whom he said had threatened him at his home a week prior.

Hiatt was dragged from his vehicle and beaten with what may have been a hammer. He was left with numerous abrasions and contusions, along with skull fractures. The injuries caused ongoing seizures and headaches.

Elliott and Kelly Francis Walker were charged with aggravated assault. Both denied the charges, and before Elliott’s conviction, MacKay acquitted Walker, saying he was left with a reasonable doubt that the man was involved in the attack.

There was little physical evidence that tied Elliott to the attack. Instead, the case came down to whose testimony MacKay believed.

MacKay said he found Elliott’s credibility wanting and that his testimony gave him little reason to doubt Hiatt’s version of the attack or his identification of Elliott as his attacker.

Elliott had testified that he felt no animosity towards his alleged victim, which MacKay said “was a startling statement given the way he glared at Mr. Hiatt throughout Mr. Hiatt’s testimony.”

MacKay also noted the contradiction between Elliott’s testimony that he wanted to keep his children away from drugs and drug users and the fact that he had many acquaintances who used narcotics.

Elliott had also said he was with his father in Hope at the time of the attack. MacKay, noting that there was no corroborating evidence, said of the purported alibi: “I reject it and conclude it was a lie told in hopes of distancing himself from the incident.”

On the other hand, Elliott found “Mr. Hiatt’s account to have a ring of truth to it” and said that his testimony “was clear about the central details of the attack.”

- with files from Tyler Olsen

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