Ryan Beauchamp

Trial opens for Surrey man accused of murdering his dad

Lawyers say case will hinge on Ryan Beauchamp's state of mind when his father Allen Bezell was killed in 2014.

He had heard quarrelling from the house next door before, but the yelling on Aug. 12, 2014 was different.

Spiro Saites and his wife were watching TV that summer afternoon when they were startled by loud screaming on the neighbouring property.

“It was very intense,” said Saites.

Saites was the first witness called to testify in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster on Monday, the opening day of the trial of Ryan Beauchamp.

Beauchamp, now 30, is charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of his father Allen Bezell, 55, in Surrey 16 months ago.

Saites rented out the home next to his to Bezell, who lived with Beauchamp and downstairs tenant Brad Buckley. Both homes were near 140 Street and 60 Avenue.

Saites testified that he raced out the door when he heard the shouting, jumping the fence into the next yard, where he saw Buckley and Beauchamp struggling with one another.

The Crown laid out its case Monday, saying Bezell was in a shed working on a car with Buckley when Beauchamp entered and attacked Bezell with a knife, slashing him in the head. Buckley, said prosecutor Vittorio Toselli, intervened, dragging Beauchamp out of the shed and getting him to drop the knife.

Saites testified he and his wife had shown up by this time, saw the two men struggle and saw Bezell emerge from the shed holding his bloody forehead.

As Buckley called 911, Beauchamp went inside the house.

Within moments, Saites said he saw Beauchamp come back outside. This time, he was holding a shotgun with both hands at waist level, pointing it straight ahead. Saites said he bypassed the couple as if they weren’t there.

“He went straight for his dad,” Saites told the court. “I said, ‘Ryan, don’t do it, no, no’.”

Beauchamp and his father struggled, Bezell holding the barrel of the gun, trying to point it away and pleading for his son to stop.

“The next thing I knew … the gun went off and shot Allen in the chest,” Saites testified.

Beauchamp dropped the shotgun beside his dad.

“It’s finished. It’s done, it’s done,” Saites recalled Beauchamp saying.

Saites said his wife told Beauchamp to go sit on the house steps and he complied. Police arrived shortly thereafter and placed him under arrest. He’s been in custody since.

Toselli said the trial will be split in two, to deal with not only the evidence pertaining to the fatal shooting, but also with psychiatric evidence related to Beauchamp’s mental health at the time of his dad’s killing.

Toselli and defence lawyer Paul McMurray agreed there is little dispute about what occurred that day.

“The issue in this case is not what happened,” said McMurray. “The issue is Mr. Beauchamp’s state of mind.”

Saites testified Beauchamp told him he was taking medication for schizophrenia and appeared socially isolated, spending most of his days in the house. He described Beauchamp’s demeanour after the shooting as “vacant.”

Beauchamp, with dark thinning hair and wire-rimmed glasses, mostly looked down as he listened to the testimony from the prisoner’s box.

The trial was expected to continue through the week.