A Nova Scotia man and alleged Colombian drug kingpin pleaded guilty to the charge of manslaughter at Nova Scotia Supreme Court in Halifax on Tuesday.
Steven Skinner’s four-week trial for the charge of second-degree murder in the 2011 death of Stacey Adams was scheduled to begin Tuesday morning.
But the indictment was withdrawn after a deal was struck between Crown prosecutors and the defence for Skinner to plead guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter.
Crown attorneys Eric Taylor and Robert Kennedy said their decision to offer a deal came down to the evidence they had available to them.
“The Achilles heel, in this case, is the fact that we had witnesses that refused to co-operate with the police, eye-witnesses in fact, that would have been a different situation if they had,” said Taylor, senior Crown counsel.
“We certainly believed them, but there was a chance a jury might not, and because of that, there was a chance that Stephen Skinner would walk free. We weren’t prepared to take that chance.”
Taylor said he hoped that the manslaughter plea would provide some closure to the family of Adams, who was fatally shot outside a home in Lake Echo, N.S., in April 2011.
Adams’ family will have the opportunity to submit victim impact statements which will be entered into the record at Skinner’s sentencing hearing, currently scheduled for Sept. 16.
Both the Crown and the defence will submit an agreed statement of facts ahead of that hearing.
The Crown noted that nothing will bring Adams back but that an “arduous” eight-year journey will soon come to an end.
“We and the public will know that Mr. Skinner killed Stacey Adams, he did so by shooting him and we’ll soon find out at the sentencing hearing how and why he did that,” said Taylor.
The Office of the Attorney General of Colombia has said that Skinner was one of the kingpins of a Colombian drug cartel before he was arrested on Venezuela’s Margarita Island in 2016 and extradited back to Canada the following year.
More to come