British Columbia

Ex-boyfriend pleads not guilty in shooting that killed woman's unborn baby

The Surrey, B.C., man accused of shooting his pregnant ex-girlfriend as she lay in bed early one morning, killing her unborn baby, did little more than fidget in the prisoner’s box as his attempted murder trial began in B.C. Supreme Court on Tuesday.

WARNING: This story contains details some readers may find disturbing

Carleton Stevens pictured in an undated Facebook photo. Stevens is charged with one count of attempted murder in connection with a double shooting in East Vancouver. (Facebook/Carleton Stevens)

A Surrey, B.C., man accused of deliberately shooting his pregnant ex-girlfriend, killing her unborn baby, did little more than fidget in the prisoner's box as his attempted murder trial began in B.C. Supreme Court on Tuesday.

Crown prosecutors began their opening statement saying Carleton Stevens fired directly at the woman's stomach when he shot her at an East Vancouver print shop on May 18, 2018. The woman was six and a half months pregnant at the time. 

She survived, but her unborn baby died. 

Defence lawyer Chandra Corriveau entered a not guilty plea on her client's behalf as proceedings began in a Vancouver courtroom Tuesday. Standing before Justice Jennifer Duncan in red, pre-trial sweats, Stevens confirmed the plea with a quiet "yes."

Victim woke to find ex at foot of her bed: Crown

In the statement outlining its version of events, the Crown said the victim was sleeping in a loft above the Industrial Avenue print shop, East Van Graphics, when she woke up to find Stevens standing at the foot of her bed holding a gun just after 5:45 a.m. 

Court heard Stevens fired once at her stomach. The shot woke a friend who'd been sleeping next to the woman, Crown said, and the man began to fight with Stevens as the victim ran downstairs for help. 

A woman who'd been working in the print shop warehouse overheard the commotion and ran toward the loft, said prosecutor Joanna Medjuck, who told the court the woman found the victim standing at the bottom of the stairs "with a hole in her stomach."

Two people were injured in a targeted shooting at East Van Graphics in East Vancouver on May 18, 2018. (Susana Da Silva/CBC)

The witness called 911. 

Prosecutors said the victim underwent an emergency caesarian at Vancouver General Hospital in hopes of saving the baby's life, but the bullet had severed the umbilical cord before lodging itself in the woman's spine.

Court heard the bullet cannot be removed.

The man who had been sleeping next to her was also taken to hospital after being shot in the alleged confrontation with Stevens. The man, then 23, survived his injuries.

The gun allegedly used in the shooting was later found under a garbage bin on East Second Avenue, about two kilometres east of the print shop. 

Stevens, then 37, was arrested in Surrey on May 21, 2018.

Vancouver police peered under vehicles, dug through bushes and pored over doorways as officers investigated the double shooting on May 18, 2018. (CBC)

He leaned on the armrest in the prisoner's box as Medjuck outlined the Crown's case aloud Tuesday, resting his cheek against his hand.

The Crown claims Stevens had accused his ex-girlfriend of infidelity and had previously threatened to shoot her and the 23-year-old man. Prosecutors said the death threats were found in a search of Steven's cellphone, allegedly contained in messages exchanged between himself and the victims.

Medjuck said the main issue at trial will be proving, beyond a reasonable doubt, it was Stevens who fired the gun used in the shooting.

Stevens is also facing a charge of possession of ammunition or a firearm contrary to a prohibition order in connection with the alleged incident. The charge has been set aside until the attempted murder charge is settled.

The trial is set to continue through next week.

About the Author

Rhianna Schmunk is a staff writer for CBC News. She is based in Vancouver with a focus on justice and the courts. You can reach her on Twitter @rhiannaschmunk or by email at rhianna.schmunk@cbc.ca.