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‘Our family has been through hell and back’: Emotional testimonies from Belyea’s daughters at sentencing

Posted on February 26, 2024 by Ryan Dahlman

By Brendan Miller
Southern Alberta Newspapers

Emotions ran high in the Court of Kings Bench on Feb. 12 as Justice Dallas Miller handed down his sentence for parole eligibility to 71-year-old Deborah Belyea, found guilty of the second-degree murder and indecency to human remains of her husband Alfred.

Belyea was sentenced to life in federal prison with a possibility of parole after 12 years. She was also sentenced to serve an additional three years concurrently for indignity to a human body.

Miller sided with defence counsel’s request seeking a maximum of 12 years before eligibility for parole after giving consideration to three victim impact statements provided to the court by Belyea’s three daughters.

“It’s a rather unusual case where the three most affected victims are, in essence, pulling for their mother to have as short a parole ineligibility period as possible to make this case truly unique compared to almost all of the other secondary murders decisions.” Miller told the court.

Prosecution Jase Cowan was seeking a minimum of 16 years before parole eligibility due to the aggravating factors involved in the case, including the amputation of Alfred’s arms and the method his body was disposed of.

Belyea, along with her eldest daughter Trina, were visibly emotional in the courtroom Feb. 12 as victim impact statements were read.

“It’s a pain that never goes away. There is no closure as you saw in here. There’s no moving on, there’s nothing, nothing that makes me feel better.” Trina tearfully told the court.

“Could you please consider my family? I grew up with loving parents and don’t understand how we got here. Never in my worst nightmare could the mother I know and love do this to my dad and my family. Part of my heart is broken.”

Trina also read a victim impact statement authored by her sister Robin who was not at court during sentencing.

“The fact that my mother was found guilty of this terrible crime has been so life altering … I feel like some days I need to wake myself from this terrible nightmare. But as hard as I try, I just can’t.

“I don’t believe she did this and I plan to support her as much as possible through the best ways I can throughout this process. Our family has gone through hell and back, we need our mom with us to complete our immediate family.”

The court also heard a victim impact statement from Alfred’s sister Lillian Marsh and Justice Miller received a private statement from Belyea’s third daughter Jodi that was not shared with the court.

Before handing out his sentence Miller told the court, “The death of Alfred Belyea is tragic and the motive is mysterious.

“Evidence of the hours prior to the stabbing are not available to the court. This is a situation of the worst case and outcome of domestic violence.”

During the sentencing the court learned Belyea has been diagnosed with mild cognitive defects as well as depression and anxiety.

Belyea was seen wearing oxygen tubes throughout the trial.

As well, the court heard she lived through an abusive childhood and was sexually abused for long periods of time.

The court also permitted Trina to give her mother a hug before being taken into custody.

The court learned Belyea has served eight months and five days in pre-trial custody and has permitted Belyea to serve her time in a B.C. prison allowing her to be closer to her three daughters, as requested by her defence counsel.

Belyea also received a mandatory weapons prohibition order for 20 years and was ordered to provide her DNA as well as forfeit all property seized that was not appropriately acclaimed.

On Jan. 30, Belyea was found guilty of the second-degree murder of her husband following a seven-day judge-only trial in the Court of King’s Bench.

She was arrested Oct. 15, 2021 at her Suffield home after police discovered her husband’s body in a grey municipal garbage bin located on an abandoned farm property just south of Piapot, Sask.

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