By Brendan Miller
Southern Alberta Newspapers
Justice Dallas Miller handed down a guilty verdict to Deborah Belyea on Jan. 29 for the second-degree homicide of her husband and former Cypress County councillor Alfred Belyea, and will receive a life sentence.
“In finding that Deborah Belyea did commit the murder by stabbing Alfred Belyea at least four times, it is clear that she committed an unlawful act,” Justice Miller told the court. “It is also clear that Alfred Belyea has died from that unlawful act and that the stabbing and death did happen in the Belyea residence.”
Deborah was also found guilty of indignity to a dead human body. Miller told the court it is clear from the evidence that Alfred’s arms were amputated after his death.
Upon delivering his verdict, Belyea began crying uncontrollably in the prisoner’s docket. Family members who were in attendance also became emotional as the justice gave his decision in the judge-only trial.
Belyea was arrested on Oct. 15, 2021 after her husband’s body was discovered in a grey municipal garbage bin found on an abandoned farm property near an outbuilding just south of Piapot, Sask.
During the investigation the court discovered RCMP investigators were able to connect evidence that was seized from Belyea’s residence and her vehicle, a Volkswagen Golf, to evidence seized at the scene in Piapot.
A bloody handle was found at Belyea’s home that fit perfectly with a large bloody Tupperware-style lid found with Alfred’s body.
An empty jug of “Certified” antifreeze that was found with Alfred’s body is identical to several jugs of the same product found at Belyea’s home.
Matts and towels that were missing from Belyea’s home were found with the body.
A large reddish-brown blanket with paisley designs found with the body was the exact same fabric and same width of a blanket found in Belyea’s basement, as well as a considerable amount of white braided rope found on the body.
Belyea’s municipal garbage bin was also missing when investigators searched her home.
Perhaps the most dominant evidence presented to the court was a handwritten letter Belyea authored to her daughters on the evening of Oct. 14, 2021.
It reads, in part: “I love Alf with all my being and I always have. I just want to be close to our girls and grandkids. I love you and cherish you, love you and would never hurt you. Please do not hate me.”
Included with the letter was a hand-drawn map that led police directly to the scene south of Piapot where Alfred’s body was discovered. It only took police a couple hours to locate his body after receiving the letter from Belyea’s eldest daughter Trina.
On Oct. 16, 2021, Medicine Hat city police seized a garbage bag from Belyea’s friend Shandel Dupal that contained bloody women’s clothing as well as rags and a roll of paper towel with red stains.
DNA was collected from Belyea’s home, her vehicle, the crime scene in Piapot, as well as the garbage bag seized from Dupal and analyzed at the RCMP national forensics laboratory in Edmonton.
Bodily fluids obtained by the RCMP Major Crimes Unit were sent to a forensic toxicologist to analyze the presence of alcohol and drugs in the body during the time of death.
Several drugs with sedative properties were found in Alfred’s system, including Morphine, Codeine, Diphenhydramine (Benadryl) and Acetaminophen (Tylenol), as well as Zopiclone, Acetone, Bupivacaine and Isopropanol.
A seven-page report concluded that Alfred’s DNA profile was found on the bloody Tupperware handles and white rope his body was loosely wrapped in and the garbage bin he was found in. As well, his DNA was found in the truck of Belyea’s Volkswagen Golf, a blue rug near his body and in the bag of bloody clothing seized by Medicine Hat police.
Following an autopsy, Dr. Andreea Nistor with the Saskatchewan Coroners Service, told the court Alfred died due to four stab wounds in his neck and chest that punctured his internal jugular vein and cut into major internal organs, including his heart and left lower lobe of his lung.
“We’re thankful for the police who did a very thorough investigation and put all those pieces of evidence together and for the civilians who came forward with evidence that was probably difficult for them to talk about,” Crown Prosecutor Jase Cowan told reporters following the verdict. “And so we appreciate that all those pieces came together.”
During the seven-day trial the burden to prove guilt of the accused lies upon the Crown, which made a case that Belyea had the exclusive opportunity to commit the homicide. During his verdict, Justice Miller agreed with the prosecution and said Belyea was the only person who could have committed the homicide.
“In my view, the circle of circumstantial evidence has been closed and completed by the Crown based on the totality of the evidence before this court,” Miller told the court. “There is no other rational or reasonable scenario on which the court can say there is a reasonable doubt.”
Belyea will serve a life sentence, however a date has been set for her sentencing to determine when she would be eligible for parole. Belyea will be sentenced at the Court of King’s Bench on Feb. 12 at 10 a.m. in Courtroom No. 4 and will remain in police custody.