By Brendan Miller
Southern Alberta Newspapers
Crown prosecutor Jase Cowan called five witnesses to the stand on the second day of the second-degree murder trial of Deborah Belyea on Jan. 10, including two elected officials from Cypress County.
Belyea was charged in October 2021 after RCMP officers found human remains at a rural location near Piapot, Sask., six days after they issued a missing person report for her husband Alfred.
At the time of his disappearance, Alfred served as councillor for the Suffield and Jenner area.
Belyea claims the last time she saw her husband was on the Saturday morning during Thanksgiving weekend 2021 when a person named Dan or Don came to pick Alfred up to inspect a gravel road.
Belyea reported Alfred missing the following Monday evening after speaking with her eldest daughter Trina Belyea over the phone.
However, County Reeve Dan Hamilton told the court it’s unlikely Alfred would have gotten in someone’s vehicle on Saturday to inspect a gravel road. Hamilton told the court county councillors would always use their own vehicles when they had to travel to inspect roads or sites in their respective wards.
Hamilton says he was also involved in search efforts to locate Alfred after he was reported missing, including taking a flight over Blood Indian Park, a location Belyea told Hamilton they might find him.
That, Belyea claims, is because she and Alfred drove to Blood Indian Park on Friday night to discuss problems they were having in their marriage.
Deputy reeve and county councillor Richard Oster also testified during the second day of the nine-day trial.
Oster told the court the last time he saw Alfred was after they played a round of golf at Desert Blume Golf Course on the Thursday before the Thanksgiving long weekend.
Oster said he made plans to play another round of golf with Alfred the following Monday. When Monday arrived Oster said it was unusual Alfred didn’t respond to both his text and phone messages.
“He’s not the type of person to ignore a text.”
Cowan presented the court a garbage bag as evidence related to the case.
MHPS forensic officer Const. Tyler Risling was called to the stand to present a series of photographs he took of a garbage bag containing several clothing items that were believed to be saturated and stained with blood.
The garbage bag contained two pairs of jeans, a sweater and shirt with blood stains and several rags and tissues saturated in blood as well as a piece of transparent plastic with blood stains.
Police seized the garbage bag from Medicine Hat resident Shandel Dupal who says she received the bag from Belyea during a short visit on Thanksgiving Monday, the same day Belyea reported Alfred missing to RCMP.
Dupal told the court she visited Belyea, her friend, on Monday in anticipation of spending the evening doing crafts and embroidery.
However, when Dupal arrived at the Suffield home, she says Belyea was too tired to continue the visit. She says Belyea then asked Dupal if she could throw out the garbage bag as she left.
Dupal told the court she could not find a large garbage dumpster when she left Belyea’s home so she put the garbage bag in her trunk and drove it to her own home and left it on her garage floor.
Days later as more information came out around Alfred’s disappearance, Dupal and her husband decided to look in the garbage bag and discovered what appeared to be blood stains and a smell of dank, damp clothing.
Dupal said she quickly closed the bag and immediately called Medicine Hat police.
During a cross examination by defence counsel Katherine Beylak, Dupal told the court she thought Alfred was a controlling husband and would do things like choose the clothing Belyea was allowed to wear. Dupal also said Alfred didn’t spend much time with his wife because of his council duties as well as his hobbies, which included darts and golf.
“Alf wasn’t the nicest man sometimes, he had a short temper,” Dupal told the court.
The Crown also called Belyea’s longtime friend Manon Bax to testify.
Bax told the court she had kept a friendship with Belyea for more than 20 years after they met while working together in a medical clinic on Haida Gwaii, at that time known as the Queen Charlotte Islands.
Bax told the court she knew the couple was going through marital problems because of conversations she’d had with the accused. Bax said Belyea was unhappy about Alfred wanting to serve another term on Cypress council.
On Thanksgiving Sunday, Bax went to visit Belyea at her Suffield home while travelling back to her home in Stirling.
Bax told the court she noticed an area rug and some antique furniture was missing from the home, and noticed a bottle of bleach on the front stair landing.
Bax also said Belyea was sore and suffered from bruises on her body. Bax told the court Belyea claimed to have fallen on the ground during her and Alfred’s trip to Blood Indian Park on Friday.
During a cross examination Bax said she has noticed a deterioration in Belyea’s health over the last 20 years. However, Bax told the court Belyea was able to remove her oxygen tubes to walk her out to her vehicle when she left.
The trial was set to continue Jan. 11 in Courtroom No. 4, and is expected to end on Jan. 19.