Murder trial cut short following key witness testimony

A man on trial for murder in Winnipeg went free after a key witness suggested he made up statements to protect a family member.

2nd-degree murder charges against Darcy Beardy were stayed on Thursday

A man on trial for murder in Winnipeg went free after a key witness agreed with a lawyer's suggestion that he made up statements to protect a family member. (Bert Savard/CBC)

A man on trial for murder in Winnipeg went free after a key witness admitted to making up statements to protect a family member. 

Darcy Jerome Beardy was charged with second-degree murder after George Gabriel Flett, 51, was found critically injured at a motel on Westwood Drive in 2015.

Flett was a guest at the hotel and was assaulted in his room sometime during the night of Dec. 10, police said at the time. He was found the next morning and rushed to hospital — he died nearly a month later. 

Beardy was scheduled for a nine-day judge-only trial in the Court of Queen's Bench but on Tuesday, the seventh day, all of his charges were stayed and he was released from custody.

"This is rare. I've been doing this for almost 27 years here and it's rare in a homicide case," Beardy's lawyer Leonard Tailleur said in an interview on Friday.

"I was shocked. I guess it happens, but it's rare."

During the trial, court heard from witness Chris Monias, who said he had gone into the hotel room where Flett was found injured earlier in the night. He initially told court that he saw Beardy kicking Flett.

He also testified he heard Beardy say "F--king a--, trying to be a big man" and that he was a Manitoba Warrior — statements he would retract under cross examination. 

Cross examination

When Crown prosecutor Manoja Moorthy asked Monias to point Flett out in the courtroom, he said "I'm not really sure if that's him."

Later, when Tailleur was cross examining Monias, court heard that another person in the room that night was related to the witness. 

Tailleur suggested that Monias was trying to protect his family member, who Tailleur suggested actually did the beating, and Monias agreed. Monias also aggreed with the suggestion that he had made up Beardy's statements to protect his family member.

Moorthy asked the witness to clarify his statements and then court took a break.

This was a crucial witness for the Crown.- Leonard Tailleur

When the Crown prosecutor returned she said she needed to speak with the victim's family but would not be submitting any more evidence. 

After another break, Moorthy told court that following Monias's testimony, it would be "unsafe to convict based on the quality and nature of the evidence."

She added the Crown cannot prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

"It's not surprising that the Crown stated they weren't prepared to proceed any further given the comments or the testimony of one of the chief witnesses,"  Tailleur said.

Tailleur added he highly commends the Crown prosecutor who made the tough decision it was unsafe to proceed further in the trial.

Beardy was brought back to Headingley Correctional Centre and then released. 

The Crown can bring stayed charges back to trial within a year, but Tailleur said he believes it is unlikely in this case.

"There's no way that such a case would be re-layed within a year with this testimony because this was a crucial witness for the Crown," he said.