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Murder verdict returned quickly

Man gets life for brutal '84 killing

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Beverley Ann Dyke was brutally raped and stabbed to death 26 years ago, her half-naked body discarded in a wooded area near the Winnipeg airport. Now a Winnipeg man has been convicted of a "cold case" killing which grieving family members feared would never be solved.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 06/03/2010 (4546 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Beverley Ann Dyke was brutally raped and stabbed to death 26 years ago, her half-naked body discarded in a wooded area near the Winnipeg airport. Now a Winnipeg man has been convicted of a "cold case" killing which grieving family members feared would never be solved.

Robert Kociuk, 68, was found guilty Friday night of first-degree murder and given a mandatory sentence of life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years. Jurors reached their verdict after just a few hours of deliberations. Kociuk showed no visible reaction upon learning he will remain in prison until he’s at least 93, while members of the victim’s family broke down in tears and embraced each other.

"Our family has been waiting 26 years for a conclusion to this nightmare," an emotional Chris Dyke said outside the courthouse.

OE.BRYKSA@FREEPRESS.MB.CA Barb Dyke gives her brother Chris Dyke a hug outside court Friday night after Robert Kociuk, 68, was convicted of the first-degree murder of their mother in 1984.

His mother, Beverley, was randomly targeted and attacked by Kociuk in a case which puzzled and frustrated investigators for years. Kociuk was finally linked to the crime after advancements in technology meant a sample of his DNA collected following a robbery conviction was matched to semen found on Dyke’s body.

"The DNA registry is a remarkable thing. It gives you new hope," said Dyke. "We hope that with this conviction we will finally be able to get some closure and put our mother to rest."

The case against Kociuk was complicated by the bizarre fact someone else previously admitted to Dyke’s slaying. Leonard White — who was himself killed in 1999 — made the admission during a 1988 interview at a penitentiary in Prince Albert, Sask.

Kociuk’s lawyers urged jurors this week to find Kociuk not guilty, saying White had a lengthy history of violence against women and even attempted suicide on the day Dyke’s body was found.

"Leonard White killed her," said lawyer Roberta Campbell in her closing statement this week. "He was a violent, dangerous, explosive psychopath."

Jurors clearly disagreed in reaching the quick verdict.

Police and justice officials have always discounted White’s claim, saying they believe he falsely confessed in an attempt to stay in prison with his gay lover. Police testified last week White had a history of making bogus confessions and only knew facts about Dyke’s case that had already been revealed publicly through the media. White claimed another man named "Ricky Morris" raped Dyke, but police said exhaustive police efforts could find no evidence such a person even existed.

Kociuk was initially interviewed as a potential suspect because he was seen by police in the area where the killing occurred on the day before Dyke’s body was found by a jogger. Kociuk, a career criminal, had been under police surveillance for armed robbery and claimed he was meeting someone to buy a gun for his next heist.

"Wrong guy. I do hold-ups. You guys know. I don’t do murder," he told investigators at the time. Kociuk continued to deny ever meeting Dyke even after he was arrested in 2005 and confronted with the new forensic evidence. Police told him the chances of a mistake were one in 680 billion.

"That’s impossible. It’s not mine. It can’t be mine," a Kociuk told homicide detectives in a videotaped interview played for the jury. "I think you guys got your wires crossed here. I don’t know this lady," he said.

Kociuk’s lawyers conceded at trial the DNA found on Dyke was a match to their client through consensual sex but offered up no further explanation. Kociuk never took the witness stand.

"The brutal slaying of our mother…has left a gaping hole in our family," Dyke’s daughter, Barb Botelho, said in her victim impact statement read aloud in court Friday night. She said Dyke never got to watch her three children get married or meet any of her eight grandchildren.

"She was an extremely kind and sweet person. How could such a heinous crime occur?" she said.

www.mikeoncrime.com

Mike McIntyre

Mike McIntyre
Sports columnist

Mike McIntyre grew up wanting to be a professional wrestler. But when that dream fizzled, he put all his brawn into becoming a professional writer.

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