'He destroyed my life': Mother speaks out as son's killer pleads guilty to lesser charge
More than eight years after a Nova Scotia man was shot to death, the man accused of pulling the trigger has pleaded guilty to manslaughter.
But the victim’s grieving mother says Steven Skinner’s guilty plea is little comfort and has left her with many questions.
“Our justice system is a joke to a lot of criminals, it really is,” said Gloria Adams outside court Tuesday.
“They get more rewards than punishment. What do we get? They make a deal. Is there a deal for me? What happens at sentencing? How much time is he gonna get?”
Her son, Stacey Adams, was found dead outside a home in Lake Echo, N.S., in April 2011. Adams was just 20 years old at the time.
“My son wasn’t a gangster. I don’t care who says what out here about my son,” said Gloria Adams. “My son was a great person … well-loved by many.”
Shortly after the shooting, the man suspected in Adams’ death fled the country. In July 2011, police charged Steven Skinner with second-degree murder, and issued an international warrant for his arrest.
The former mixed martial arts fighter was arrested almost five years later, on May 15, 2016, by police on Margarita Island in Venezuela, and brought back to Canada.
Skinner’s second-degree murder trial was set to begin Tuesday at Nova Scotia Supreme Court, but instead he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of manslaughter.
Gloria Adams says she is disappointed -- but not surprised -- that Skinner was offered a plea deal.
“This is absolutely … not a manslaughter case. I feel there should have been more people charged in this case as well, not just Steven Skinner,” she said.
“All I wanted was the right justice. I also wanted that man to know my son did nothing to him, nothing. He destroyed my life, is what he did.”
Crown attorney Eric Taylor says it would have been a difficult case to prosecute due to the available evidence, a lack of cooperation from some witnesses, and credibility issues with others.
“The evidence is as it is and we have to go with what we have available. The Achilles Heel in this case is the fact that we had witnesses that refused to cooperate with police -- eyewitnesses in fact. That would have been a different situation if they had,” said Taylor.
“The witnesses we had remaining generally came from a gangster lifestyle. They’re involved in drugs and alcohol and involvement in criminal organizations. We certainly believed them, but there was a chance the jury might not, and because of that there was a chance that Steven Skinner would walk free. We weren’t prepared to take that chance.”
Since a firearm was used, the Criminal Code states Skinner must face a minimum four-year sentence.
Skinner has been in custody since he was arrested three years ago. The Crown says it has agreed that Skinner should receive one-and-a-half days’ credit for every day served in custody to date.
“We’ve been over eight years with my son being murdered, eight years, and this is the end result,” said Adams.
“I have to live with it.”
Skinner’s sentencing is set for Sept. 16.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Natasha Pace