MEDICINE HAT, AB — Medicine Hat Police have laid a charge in connection with the murder of James Satre last October.
On Wednesday morning, police announced they laid a charge of first-degree murder against Robert Hoefman of Medicine Hat.
It's the first time in seven years police have laid a charge of first degree murder, the last was in relation to the death of Casey Armstrong in 2011.
Satre, 64, was found dead near corner of Mill Street SE and Smelter Avenue on October 11, 2017. Police confirmed the death was being investigated as a homicide two days later, stating at the time that Satre was killed in a “cowardly” attack.
Investigators allege Satre was not previously known to Hoefman.
"Mr. Satre appears to be a victim of circumstance and location, and does not appear to be connected to the accused in any manner," said Inspector Brent Secondiak.
Hoefman, 55, was previously charged with one count of extortion on November 9, 2017. The extortion investigation began October 10, the day before Satre was found dead, after police received information about an attempt to extort a Medicine Hat resident.
Investigators say the extortion included severe threats and violence along with general threats toward the community.
Police say the extortion and homicide investigation are linked.
"We believe the homicide was committed to further the extortion, to bolster the extortion," said Secondiak. "We believe it was used to strike fear into the victim of the extortion."
Details on the nature of the extortion can't be released as it's part of the on-going court proceedings. Police say they are still investigating the relationship between Hoefman and the victim of the extortion, who can't be named due to a publication ban.
As for Satre, Police said he was not the subject of any investigation prior to his death and didn’t lead a high-risk lifestyle.
A charge of first-degree murder requires substantial evidence the offence was premeditated.
"I can tell you that the act of first degree murder is not taken lightly and requires proof that the act was deliberate and planned," Secondiak explained.
Police say the charge is based on physical evidence located at the scene, in addition to evidence obtain in a search warrant.
Hoefman remains in custody and made a brief court appearance on Wednesday, where the newest charge was sworn against him. He returns to court on January 24.
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