When Spiro Saites and his wife, Patricia, heard arguing coming from next door on Aug. 12, 2014, it sounded different than the arguments they usually overheard.
“It was very intense, very loud,” Spiro testified in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster on Monday at the second-degree murder trial of 30-year-old Ryan Beauchamp.
Spiro looked out the window and tried to see what was happening. When he couldn’t, he and his wife ran outside, jumped the fence into the neighbour’s yard and found Beauchamp — who lived upstairs in the Surrey rental house with his father Allen Bezell — wrestling with the downstairs tenant, Brad Buckley.
Minutes earlier, Beauchamp had walked into a shed where Bezell and Buckley were working on a car, and slashed his father’s face with a knife. Buckley dragged Beauchamp out of the shed and got him to drop the knife, but Beauchamp was fighting back.
It was at this point that Spiro and Patricia arrived.
Spiro said he yelled repeatedly at the men to stop fighting, and it didn’t take long for them to separate. According to Patricia, Beauchamp ran up the stairs into his house, yelling at his dad, “This is all your fault!”
Bezell emerged from the shed after his son had left. He was holding his forehead and bleeding. Buckley called 911.
Less than five minutes later, Beauchamp emerged from the house with a shotgun.
“I was very surprised he was even holding a gun,” Patricia testified.
Spiro spotted Beauchamp when he was halfway down the driveway. He said Beauchamp went straight for his father.
“As he went by, I said, ‘Ryan, no, no, don’t do it,” Spiro said.
But Beauchamp didn’t even acknowledge that Spiro and his wife were there. Spiro said Beauchamp looked very distraught, “disconnected,” and “not in touch with reality.”
Beauchamp walked up to his father and pointed the shotgun at his chest. The two struggled and shouted at each other.
“Al said, ‘What are you doing?’ He was so desperate in his tone trying to get Ryan to stop what he was doing. Ryan just said, ‘This is all your fault.’ And then it was over,” Patricia said.
The gun discharged, shooting Bezell once in the chest. He died instantly.
“[Beauchamp] said two or three times, ‘It’s finished, it’s done, it’s done, it’s done — as if that was his mission,” Spiro said.
Patricia said Beauchamp yelled, hysterically, “Patricia, I guess you won’t be getting your rent this month.”
Beauchamp placed the gun by his father’s body. She said that after he put the gun down, Beauchamp was frantic and babbling.
“I said Ryan, I want you to go sit down. I want you to sit on the stairs and just be quiet,” Patricia said. “He just did as he was told.”
Beauchamp sat on the steps until police arrived and arrested him. He was charged with his father’s murder.
During opening statements, Crown and defence agreed that there is only one issue to be argued at trial.
“The issue in this case is not what happened … the issue is Mr. Beauchamp’s state of mind at the time,” said defence lawyer Paul McMurray.
Beauchamp suffers from paranoid schizophrenia.
The Saiteses had rented the house next door to Bezell and Beauchamp for about a decade before the events of August 2014, and testified that they knew about Beauchamp’s mental illness.
Patricia said one day Beauchamp came over to her house and pounded on the door, yelling.
“I opened door and he was frantic. He was terrified and he was convinced he had been shot roughly 25 times in the chest and the abdomen area, and he was followed by these people,” she told the court.
Beauchamp barged in and insisted on calling the police. When Patricia called him, Bezell blamed the incident on a change in his son’s medication.
“He was completely lost in his delusion of something he believed was true and he was terrified — absolutely terrified.”
The trial continues this week.