Steven Skinner sentenced to 11 years for manslaughter in shooting death
More than eight years after Stacey Adams was shot and killed, the man who pulled the trigger has been sentenced to 11 years in prison for manslaughter.
Steven Skinner was sentenced Monday in Nova Scotia Supreme Court. The Crown and defence recommended the 11-year sentence, with 1.5-days’ credit for each day Skinner has already spent in custody.
The judge accepted their recommendation, sentencing Skinner to 11 years in prison, with credit for time served, which means he will spend another six years behind bars.
“In Nova Scotia, the range of sentence for manslaughter has been dictated four to 10 years, and you can certainly waver from that range when there are particularly aggravating or mitigating factors on the other end,” explained Crown attorney Robert Kennedy outside the courtroom.
“Where there’s a firearm used and it’s a near-murder situation, as opposed to a near-accident situation, we felt it appropriate to go above the four-to-ten year range, and we felt 11 years was the appropriate sentence in these circumstances.”
Skinner shot Adams after drinking alcohol, using cocaine
Stacey Adams was found dead outside a home in Lake Echo, N.S., in April 2011. He was 20 years old at the time.
According to the agreed statement of facts, Skinner flew from Vancouver to Moncton using a fake name, and then made his way to Lake Echo, despite court-ordered conditions requiring him to stay out of Nova Scotia.
Once in Lake Echo, the court heard that Skinner became intoxicated after consuming cocaine and alcohol. When Adams arrived at the home to purchase marijuana, Skinner -- who believed Adams always carried a gun -- shot him three times with a .44-calibre handgun. He then put his body in a car and fled the scene, the court heard.
Skinner left the country shortly after the shooting. In July 2011, police charged him 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 in 2017.
Skinner’s second-degree murder trial was set to begin on Sept. 3, but instead he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of manslaughter.
“In these circumstances, we are aware of facts that would indicate that Mr. Skinner was extremely intoxicated, under the influence of both cocaine and alcohol, as well a combination of lack of sleep,” said Kennedy.
“In law that would result in the Crown perhaps having difficulty proving the intent to kill, given his intoxicated state at the time of the offence, and therefore the charge of manslaughter is the appropriate charge in those circumstances.”
However, the victim’s mother says she disagrees with some of the facts presented in court.
“Had my son pulled a gun on this man, and this man shot back, I get it,” said Gloria Adams outside the courtroom. “I could totally understand, but my son did not have a weapon on him in the house that day, and he was shot three times in the back. Where’s the justice in all that?”
Mother addresses court, son's killer
Adams also spoke inside the courtroom, where she talked about the “unbreakable bond” she had with her son.
“The best part of me died on April 10, 2011,” she told the court. “My heart has stopped and it’s been replaced with a crushing pain. I will never be the same person again.”
Adams says it took her five years to be able to work again and described what it’s like to live with PTSD after the death of her son.
“I wake up in the middle of the night, sometimes I forget it happened, and I feel like he’s in his room. And then when I get up, the reality hits me that he’s actually gone,” she said.
“The nightmares are the scene, everything that happened in that house, right down to his body being put into my car.”
Skinner was also given the opportunity to address the court, but he declined.
“He had an opportunity to stand up and address me in there and he chose not to and that’s what cowards do,” said Adams. “He’s a coward.”
With files from CTV Atlantic's Natasha Pace.