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Accused Chilliwack double-murderer gets case moved to New Westminster

Aaron Douglas faces two counts of murder and one count of attempted murder for an alleged incident in August 2014 in Chilliwack. - File
Aaron Douglas faces two counts of murder and one count of attempted murder for an alleged incident in August 2014 in Chilliwack.
— image credit: File

Family and friends of the victims of accused double murderer Aaron Douglas now have a long way to go to see justice and they may have to wait until 2017.

Douglas is charged with the Aug. 7, 2014 murders of Richard Blackmon and Tyler Belcourt in a downtown Chilliwack apartment.

He is also charged in the attempted murder of a woman who survived the alleged attack.

Douglas appeared in BC Supreme Court in Chilliwack Monday via video for what was supposed to be a pre-trial conference.

At the hearing his lawyer, Ken Beatch, said the jury trial should not be held in Chilliwack because the "high profile, notorious" case has been on the front page of the local paper. He even pointed out the attendance of the Times in the courtroom.

"It makes much more sense if we agree to go to another venue," Beatch said.

Crown Counsel Allan Mandell said he didn't object to moving the trial to New Westminster, in part because of better security availability in that courthouse.

"My concern is delay," Mandell added.

The trial is expected to last six to 10 weeks, there are outstanding pre-trial and voir dire matters to resolve, a witness list to complete and Beatch said his "calendar is booked up."

Beatch also told the court he hasn't even met with his client yet.

He told the court his co-counsel on the matter has no availability for a trial of this length until 2017.

Mandell said he wanted to make it clear on the record that the delay in getting the case to trial is purely as a result of Douglas's own lawyers.

He said the Crown will be ready to proceed in the spring or fall.

"It's up to Mr. Beatch," Mandell said.

"Spring or fall of what?" Douglas asked over the video link.

"Next year," Mandell said.

Further complicating the case is the fact that Crown tried to get Beatch kicked off the case last month because he represented one of the Crown's witnesses on another matter. The application to have Beatch removed was dismissed, but the judge ordered that he not be allowed to cross-examine this particular witness. For this reason, Beatch got co-counsel to defend Douglas.

"It's [co-counsel's] calendar that would push this into April [2017]," Beatch said.

The case is due back in court in New Westminster on Jan. 25 to fix a date for trial.

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