Local Man charged in Grande Prairie murder case

Trent Ernst, Editor


RCMP from Tumbler Ridge, Dawson Creek and Fort St. John converged on a house in Tumbler Ridge last week to arrest Thomas Sutton, a resident of Tumbler Ridge.

Sutton, 43, was arrested after a 16 month investigation of the murder of Devin Pisch, a Grande Prairie man.

Pisch was murdered in June, 2014 in the Cutbank staging area, 70 km south of Grande Prairie off Highway 40. This area is not a formal park, but is a popular staging areas for ATVers, as well as anglers and campers along the Cutbank River.

This is the third arrest made by police in this investigation. Shortly after the incident, 35-year-old Jerrid Rychards was arrested and charged with discharging a firearm with intent, pointing a firearm, unauthorized possession of a firearm, possess a firearm knowing it’s possession was unauthorized, and possession of prohibited or restricted firearm with ammunition. Rychard was also in breach of conditions from an incident a few weeks earlier.

Also arrested was 33-year-old Gregory Decker, who faced the same charges.

Rychard appeared before a court in Grande Prairie last month. According to court reports from the Grande Prairie Daily Herald Tribune, Pisch asked Rychard to bring some equipment to the area. Rychard thought the request may be a set-up, so he asked several other people to come with him to Cutbank.

An argument broke out, and both Pisch and Rychard drew handguns, and Pisch was killed. Another man, William Blackwood, was struck with a bullet in the “left groin” and admitted to hospital in Grande Prairie.

Rychard was not charged with his murder, as forensics experts from the RCMP testified they couldn’t prove Rychard had shot either man.

Rychard did plead guilty to four charges: Possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose, pointing a firearm at another person, and two breach charges. He was sentenced to three years in jail, of which he has served about two years already. He has 370 days remaining. He is also banned for life from using firearms, and will submit a DNA sample to the court.

The other man accused in the shooting, Gregory Decker, is also being held at ERC.

Decker pleaded not guilty to charges of pointing a firearm, intent to endanger, knowing and unauthorized possession of a prohibited firearm and possession of a controlled substance. His two-day preliminary inquiry is set for November 24.

Pisch was a 27 year-old resident of the Grande Prairie area, and had a colourful past, with numerous run ins with the law.

In 2012, Pisch was charged with 15 different offences at once, including, assaulting a police officer, Escape from Lawful Custody, Possession of a shotgun, bear mace, a knife, numerous drugs, disobeying a court order and breach of probation. At the time, Pisch had been pulled over and arrested. He kicked the back door of the cruiser open, hitting the policeman, then kicked the officer again before fleeing on foot while handcuffed. He was soon recaptured.

Later that year, someone fired a shotgun into the window of the apartment that Pisch lived in. When police investigated, they found drugs and several thousand dollars in cash in the apartment

RCMP Major Crimes Unit and Grande Prairie RCMP Detachment have been working on the case since June of last year. On November 5, RCMP descended on the house where Sutton was staying and arrested him.

Sutton, who neighbours say moved to Tumbler Ridge last summer, is being transported from British Columbia to appear before a Justice of the Peace in Alberta. A date for Mr. Sutton to appear in court in Alberta has not been set yet.