April 24, 2014 10:20 pm

Two men charged with first-degree murder in N.S. homeless man’s death

Watch: RCMP laid first-degree murder charges against two men in the death of a homeless man last fall. Natasha Pace reports.

HALIFAX – The RCMP have laid murder charges against two men in connection with the death of a homeless man whose body was found in a burnt bus shelter in Berwick, N.S. last October.

Harley Lawrence, 62, died in the early hours of Oct. 23, when the shelter on Commercial Street erupted in flames.

On Friday, police charged Daniel Wayne Surette, 26, and Kyle David James Fredericks, 25, both from Berwick, with first-degree murder in connection with the man’s death.

READ MORE: Community bids farewell to homeless man killed in N.S. bus shelter fire

The charges come as welcome news to the residents of Berwick and the Lawrence family, who have been searching for answers during the six-month investigation.

“He’d be glad with the outcome… and knowing whoever did this to him is going to be held accountable for it,” Harley Lawrence’s brother, Ronald Lawrence, said.

He said his brother suffered from an undiagnosed mental health problem.

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The Lawrence family said there’s still a long road ahead to find out exactly what happened to their brother.

“It’s nice to see the outcome of it, so far, because RCMP were working very hard on this,” said Lawrence.

READ MORE: Family of Harley Lawrence anxious to know what happened

The cause of Harley’s death has yet to be determined pending the results of an autopsy.

Insp. Chris MacNaughton said people have also been brought together by Lawrence’s death.

“It has been a trying time for the Lawrence family and the community as a whole,” she said. “As a police officer, I have seen how tragedy can bring people together as in this case.”

Police said Surette was arrested in Berwick and Fredericks was arrested in the Halifax suburb of Lower Sackville without incident.

Police say neither suspect knew the man and both are scheduled to make a court appearance, in Kentville, on Monday.

Mounties said both suspects have criminal records and are known to police.

Fredericks was acquitted last year in the death of Joshua Graves, who died in 2011 from a lethal combination of alcohol and Dilaudid.

RCMP charged Fredericks with criminal negligence causing death in Mar. 2012, a year after Graves passed away.

He was acquitted in Feb. 2013, after a provincial court judge said the Crown had not proven beyond a reasonable doubt that Fredericks had provided the Dilaudid that caused the 21-year-old’s death.

With files from Global’s Natasha Pace and The Canadian Press

© Shaw Media, 2014

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