Security high as former fugitive Steven Skinner in court on murder charge
Mother of victim Stacey Adams says the six years since her son's death have been the worst of her life
As guards escorted former fugitive Steven Skinner from the parking lot into Dartmouth provincial court Monday morning, the mother of Stacey Adams, the man he is accused of killing six years ago, began to yell at him.
"I want him to see me," said Gloria Adams. "I want him to look at the woman who raised that young man."
Stacey Adams had just turned 20 when he was shot and killed in the driveway of a home in Lake Echo, N.S., on April 10, 2011.
Skinner is charged with second-degree murder in his death and police believe he fled the country soon after the homicide. Monday was Skinner's first court appearance on the charge after he was finally returned to Nova Scotia from Venezuela.
Skinner had been on the run for five years when he was arrested on Margarita Island, Venezuela, in May 2016. He has been in custody ever since and Canadian officials went through a lengthy extradition process.
"I don't know what his life story is, but I know what my son's life story is," said Gloria Adams. "All I want now is for him to be held accountable.
"Let's get this over with so I can get back my life, because he can't give me back my son."
In the courtroom, Gloria Adams sat on a bench in the public gallery as close as she could to Skinner, who was just five metres away during his court appearance. He remains in custody and is scheduled to return to court July 5.
About two dozen supporters of Gloria Adams's family were behind her, many of them wearing shirts with her son's name on them.
While she is glad to finally see Skinner in court, she said the last six years have been the worst of her life.
"I went into a rage that as a human being and as a mother I never thought was capable of having," said Adams.
An extradition decision from a court in Venezuela described how Skinner, a former mixed-martial-arts fighter, allegedly tried to bribe his way out of a Venezuelan prison while he was being held following his arrest.
Skinner is named in the decision as a member of an illegal drug organization that police dubbed the Belanger Group. Police allege it was headed by Ryan Belanger, the owner of the house where Adams was killed, and allege the group trafficked drugs in Nova Scotia, Ontario and British Columbia, according to the ruling.
The group allegedly imported cocaine from Mexico, according to the extradition ruling, and Skinner's contacts included associates of the Hells Angels.
Dozens of police officers and sheriffs were on hand for Skinner's arrival at the Dartmouth courthouse. Six sheriffs and four Halifax Regional Police officers were in the courtroom for his brief appearance.
In addition to the second-degree murder charge, Skinner is facing several charges in connection with an incident in Lower Sackville on July 22, 2009, including aggravated assault, forcible confinement, assault with a weapon, uttering threats and possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose.