Belcourt sentenced to life with no parole for 15 years in murder of Fernwood man

Belcourt sentenced to life with no parole for 15 years in murder of Fernwood man
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The man who was convicted of shooting and killing a 52-year-old Fernwood man during a home invasion in 2010 has been sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole for 15 years.

In February, a jury found the 27-year old guilty in the second-degree murder of Leslie Hankel.   During the four-week trial, court heard that Hankel was shot in the head during a break-in and robbery by then-19-year-old Belcourt and co-accused Samuel McGrath.  Hankel, who had schizophrenia and lived alone in his small apartment at 1260 Pembroke St., died almost instantly. Belcourt fired the gun that struck Hankel in the side of the head.

Court also heard that the two had intended to steal what they thought was a large amount of marijuana. Only a small tin of marijuana was found. Belcourt was originally found guilty in an initial trial, but successfully appealed the conviction in 2012. McGrath was convicted of manslaughter in 2012, and is now serving time.

Hankel’s sisters, Mary Beech, and Kathy Rogers sat in court to hear the sentence.  Beech said the sentence was better than they expected. “It’s better than we thought. You know, originally there was strong indication it could be twelve years. Which is what the other guy got. That would be tragic. It’s better than we thought it was going to be. And we have to accept that decision.”   Rogers said nothing will bring their brother back. “He was our brother. How do you close that? No, I feel good of the outcome. It’s better, like they said than what we thought.”

Andrew Belcourt

Andrew Belcourt. File photo.

Alexa HuffmanAlexa Huffman

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