Nova Scotia

Steven Skinner shot Stacey Adams to death during cocaine binge, court told

A man who was arrested on a beach in Venezuela after being on the run for more than five years has been sentenced to serve another six years behind bars for the shooting death of Stacey Adams in Lake Echo, N.S.

Skinner went on the run for 5 years following N.S. killing, finally arrested in Venezuela

This photo of Skinner's arrest on a beach was shared by Venezuelan police on social media. (Twitter)

A man who was arrested on a beach in Venezuela after being on the run for more than five years has been sentenced to serve another six years behind bars for the shooting death of Stacey Adams in Lake Echo, N.S.

Nova Scotia Supreme Court Justice Jamie Campbell sentenced Steven Skinner Monday to 11 years, less a five-year credit for time already spent in custody.

Skinner was originally charged with second-degree murder, but pleaded guilty to manslaughter late last month, less than a week before his trial was set to begin.

"The agony of losing my son I can tell you, your honour, I can feel it all the way to the core of my being," Gloria Adams, the mother Stacey Adams, wrote in a victim impact statement introduced in court. "I will never be the same person again. None of us will. Your honour, this is the life sentence I was given."

Skinner, wearing a grey suit with a white shirt and wire rim glasses, did not address the court.

An agreed statement of facts reveals details never before made public about the morning Adams was killed.

The statement said Skinner used a false name to fly from Vancouver to Moncton, N.B., on April 6 and 7, 2011. From there, he travelled to Nova Scotia, where he was subject to a provincial court recognizance requiring him to stay away from the province.

'Heavily intoxicated'

On the evening of April 9, Skinner was at the home of Jeffrey Belanger and Crystal Stephens on Shadewell Lane in Lake Echo. They were all consuming a substantial amount of cocaine and alcohol.

"Belanger and Skinner did not sleep at all throughout the night, and were both heavily intoxicated," the document said. "At one point in the evening, Skinner donned a bulletproof vest and Belanger shot Skinner multiple times with a .22-calibre handgun."

During the morning hours of April 10, Belanger, Skinner and Stephens were in the kitchen area of the home and were in the process of getting ready to leave, as it was scheduled for a real estate viewing.

Belanger was a regular trafficker of both drugs and weapons and was trying to make the home presentable for the viewing. He collected firearms and drugs and placed them into two separate duffel bags on the kitchen counter.

Around 11 a.m., Adams and another man arrived at the home. Adams knew Belanger and had been to the home before, but his arrival was not expected on that morning. 

Skinner was 'paranoid'

"Skinner knew there were rumours on the street that Adams had shot and killed another person in the past, as well as rumours that Adams wanted to kill Skinner," said the statement, which noted he was still heavily intoxicated.

"His cocaine and alcohol use, combined with his lack of sleep, caused Skinner to feel paranoid and led to Skinner concluding Adams intended to kill him."

Adams then asked to purchase cannabis from Belanger, and as he was preparing it, there was a confrontation between Skinner, Adams and Belanger.

Skinner stood up and walked over to the counter and picked up a .44-calibre handgun from the duffel bag. As he picked up the gun, Adams reached to his side and stood up. Skinner believed he intended to shoot him.

"He fired three times at Adams with the handgun, striking Adams in the left wrist and the torso. Adams died from these three gunshot wounds," the statement said.

The man that had accompanied Adams fled the scene. Skinner was distraught, and Belanger and Stephens left the home soon after.

Skinner then moved the body from the home to Adams's car, which was parked outside.

Fled to Mexico

"Skinner then poorly and ineffectively attempted to clean up the blood left on the floor of the residence from Adams' gunshot wounds," according to the statement of facts.

Skinner was picked up by a friend and driven to Moncton, where he disposed of the gun in the Petitcodiac River. The weapon was later recovered by police.

He went to the Moncton airport around 6:30 p.m. and flew back to Vancouver under a false name. The next day, he flew from Vancouver to Mazatlán, Mexico. He would evade police for another five years.

At Monday's sentencing, Skinner was given a 1½ credit for the 40 months he spent in pre-trial custody, reducing his sentence going forward to six years.

In her victim impact statement, Gloria Adams wrote that her son had just turned 20 years old, and was "full of life, energetic, caring and comical, loyal and was so protective over his family and others he was close to."

She said her life fell apart the day he died.

A mother's pain

"I received the call that is every parent's fear, every parent's worst nightmare, my baby boy, my heart, my Stacey, had been shot," she wrote, noting she has post-traumatic stress disorder and difficulty sleeping.

Skinner spent over five years on the run from authorities using a series of aliases until he was arrested on a Venezuelan beach in 2016 and extradited to Canada.

He was on Interpol's most-wanted list and was considered "armed, dangerous and violent."

Last year, Colombian authorities alleged Skinner was a ringleader in a drug cartel and accused him of murdering an accomplice before he escaped to Venezuela.

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