A man who, a judge concluded, shot two people, including his pregnant former girlfriend, has been found not guilty of attempted murder.
After Carleton Stevens shot his ex-girlfriend, who can only be identified by the initials J.Y. due to a publication ban, the victim, who was 6 1/2-months pregnant, lost her unborn child, who was also Stevens’ child.
The couple had broken up two weeks before the May 2018 shooting. Stevens had threatening to kill J.Y. and her friend Taj Lovett numerous times.
Stevens knew Lovett and the messages exchanged between them reflected the fact that they had a close relationship that was damaged in the accused’s mind when Lovett provided shelter for J.Y. in the loft of the East Van Graphics print shop where he worked, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Jennifer Duncan said in her verdict Wednesday.
Stevens, who pleaded not guilty to attempting to murder J.Y., was angry at both Lovett and J.Y., and vacillated between denying he was the father of J.Y.’s baby and wanting his family back, the judge said.
The accused also believed that Lovett was having sex with J.Y., which Lovett denied. Soon before the shooting, J.Y. texted Stevens, expressing anger at the way he had treated her and asking that he return some of her ID documents, Duncan said.
The Crown argued that early on May 18, 2018, Stevens, armed with a firearm and wearing gloves, entered the shop where J.Y. was staying with Lovett and shot her. J.Y. testified that she woke up from a deep sleep to discover Stephens in the loft and carrying a gun. She said she got up to leave, then was shot. Then there was a struggle involving Stevens and Lovett, J.Y. said.
But other witnesses said the struggle preceded the shooting, which, the judge found, was critical in her analysis.
Duncan concluded that Stevens and another man, identified as Person X, entered the print shop and went up to the loft. Stevens was wearing gloves, not because his hands were cold in the middle of May, but because he was preparing to enter the building and confront Lovett or J.Y. or both, the judge said.
The judge found that there was a struggle between Stevens and Lovett, and the accused discharged the firearm at, or in the direction of, Lovett with the bullet travelling through Lovett’s right arm, then hitting J.Y., who was either on the bed or getting up to leave the loft.
“In a case like this, where a pregnant woman was shot and lost her unborn child, feelings of revulsion or sympathy must not overwhelm the necessary legal analysis,” the judge said.
“While there was evidence the accused was angry at J.Y. and made threats against her in the weeks leading up to the shooting, I cannot be satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that he intended to shoot her. My doubt arises from the fact that one shell casing was found in the loft, indicating that one shot was fired.”
The accused made threats against Lovett, as well as J.Y., and it’s a reasonable scenario that Lovett, not J.Y., was the intended target, the judge said.
While there was no doubt Stevens, who was 37 at the time of the shooting, uttered threats and used a firearm in a way that contravenes the Criminal Code, the single count before the court required proof beyond a reasonable doubt that he shot J.Y. with intent to kill, Duncan said.
No charges were laid in connection with the shooting of Lovett after he did not provide a statement to police. He did not testify at trial either.
Stevens has an outstanding matter, breaching a firearms possession ban, which will be dealt with later.