Warning: This report contains details of an alleged murder, as heard in court, that readers may find disturbing.
Chad Tyler Beck was provoked into killing his one-time best friend during a drunken Canada Day encounter in 2018, a Yellowknife court heard on Tuesday.
After the Crown rested its case in Beck’s murder trial, defence lawyer Peter Harte told the court his client was bullied and assaulted by Cameron Sayine in the weeks and months before the July 1 encounter, during which Beck reacted suddenly and before his “passion could cool.”
Their friendship had soured after Sayine returned from a stint in jail and he had become more aggressive when drinking, the court heard.
Taking the stand in his own defence, Beck said he grabbed an axe outside the small house on the edge of Fort Resolution with the intent of scaring away an aggressive and intoxicated Sayine, 27, who had moments before hit him in the head, chipping his tooth.
That assault had followed another blow to his head a short time earlier, which had left him with a bleeding wound over his eye.
Sayine was also threatening his cousin, Jason Larocque, inside the house.
“Why am I running away?” Beck, 30 at the time, recalled saying to himself after fleeing the house, initially to find a phone to call the police.
“I can’t leave Jason in there.”
Spotting a metal axe about three feet in length, he grabbed it and went back inside. He thought he would use the axe to “scare Cameron away.”
“I could see Cameron … lunging up again and going for Jason. I was thinking, what if he sees me with the axe and takes it away and hits me?
“I wasn’t even thinking … I just swung the axe and hit him.”
As Sayine dropped to the floor with a fatal wound near the back of his ear, Beck struck him again.
Slipped on axe
Larocque testified at the first part of the trial in October, stating he was passed out from drinking that evening when Sayine roused him. He saw Beck return with the axe and swing it repeatedly at Sayine.
“I got up right away and stopped Chad from hitting him again. I grabbed him, I grabbed the axe. I slapped him,” Larocque said at the time.
“[I said] to kill someone, that’s not the way we do things. What the f–––’s wrong with you?”
On Tuesday, Beck testified he decided to move Sayine’s body to conceal it from relatives who might show up and react aggressively toward him before police arrived.
He had also thrown the axe down the hill and he slipped on it. Frustrated and panicking, he struck Sayine’s body three more times with the axe.
Asked by Crown prosecutor Blair MacPherson why he decided to strike the dead man three more times, he said: “I was really upset about what I had done. It was all Cameron’s fault. He just showed up out of nowhere. I was drinking and having fun.”
Several people in the public gallery stood up and left the courtroom during the prosecutor’s detailed and difficult questioning. One woman yelled out: “This is too much for me … why the hell do you have to do all of this?”
Beck denied he was trying to cover up his crime by moving the body and throwing the axe into nearby woods.
“I just didn’t want anybody using [the axe] on me,” Beck said. “I knew I was in trouble right away.”
Beck is on trial before an NWT Supreme Court judge and no jury, facing a charge of second-degree murder. His attempt to plead guilty to manslaughter was rejected at the start of the trial by the Crown.
Final submissions are expected later this week.