New charges laid in last spring's hit-and-run death of Edmonton teen

An Edmonton man whose murder charge in connection with hit and run last spring was later withdrawn by police has now had new charges filed against him.

Jade Belcourt killed in May 2017 by a truck that drove through a west-Edmonton backyard

Justin Handbury has been charged with several offences in connection with a hit and run that killed and Edmonton teen last spring. (Edmonton Police Service)

An Edmonton man whose murder charge in connection with a hit and run last spring was later withdrawn by police has now had new charges filed against him.

The strange case began on May 22, 2017, when 18-year-old Jade Belcourt was hit and killed by a truck in west Edmonton.

Belcourt was in the backyard of his aunt's home when a Ford F-150 was driven through the yard following an altercation, police said at the time.

The truck was later recovered near Wetaskiwin and investigators determined it had been stolen.
A fence near the crash site was cracked and sagging from the apparent impact of a hit and run Monday afternoon in west Edmonton. (CBC Edmonton)

Homicide detectives issued a warrant for the arrest of Justin Handbury, 31.

Handbury surrendered himself to RCMP two days later and was charged with second-degree murder and other offences.

The next day, Edmonton police withdrew all the charges.

"New information has led the investigators to withdraw the charges at this time," police said in a news release dated May 25, 2017.

On Tuesday, almost 10 months after those charges were withdrawn, police announced that Handbury has been charged with criminal negligence causing death, criminal negligence causing bodily harm, dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death, dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing bodily harm, operating a motor vehicle while disqualified, possession of incendiary materials with the intent to commit arson and possession of stolen property over $5,000.

"As a result of further investigation and consultation with the Crown, the most recent charges were laid by homicide section," police said in a news release.

'I just had to be patient'

Rhonda Belcourt, Jade's mother, called the new charges "a blessing" in her search for justice.

"I was just in shock, because I didn't think anybody was going to do anything," she said.

"When [the detective] told me they picked [the accused] up, I was like, 'Oh, my God, you actually do care and you do listen!' And I just started crying, because I felt so bad for being mad at everything and everybody.

"I just had to be patient."

Belcourt said news of the charges came as a relief.

"Now that I know he's being charged, I'm not so angry, I'm not so lost, I'm not so distraught, destroyed," she said. "It was killing me."

"Knowing that I couldn't save [Jade] just tore me up inside," she said.

Belcourt said the charges will help her move on with her life, especially since she'll be a first-time grandmother soon.

"I feel now that I can move forward," she said.