A Chilliwack man has been sentenced to six-and-a-half years for manslaughter.
Owen Charpentier appeared at the Chilliwack Law Courts Tuesday morning (Nov. 29) to hear the verdict from B.C. Supreme Court Justice Alan Ross. Crown had been seeking eight to nine years while defence was looking for six.
Charpentier, 26, previously pleaded guilty to manslaughter with a firearm. He shot Keith Baldwin, 27, in the head on Oct. 22, 2019, killing him during a dispute near a car wash at Yale Road and Fletcher Street.
In the days leading up to the shooting, Baldwin had been been the more aggressive of the two men, trying to find Charpentier. He believed Charpentier had damaged the ignition in his car when he broke into it, and he wanted money.
Ross said that was one reasons he arrived at the lower end of the sentencing submissions.
“The circumstances of the dispute could not be ignored,” he told the court. “Mr. Baldwin was pursuing Mr. Charpentier. Mr. Charpentier sought to avoid Mr. Baldwin… although the defence of self defence was not established, it is clear that the shooting would not have occurred had Mr. Baldwin not pursued Mr. Charpentier.
“However, Mr. Charpentier aimed the gun and fired at Mr. Baldwin, being reckless as to the result. On that basis I find that the offence falls in the mid range on the spectrum between near-accident and near-murder.”
Carrying on with mitigating factors, Ross called the circumstances of Charpentier’s upbringing relevant, noting he was “raised in less than ideal circumstances and he’s been addicted to street drugs since his mid-teens.
Ross also cited the “genuine remorse” Charpentier showed at a sentencing hearing in June, calling it a “significant” mitigating factor. Charpentier cried at that hearing, particularly when Baldwin’s mother, Julie McDonald, read her victim impact statement and forgave him.
“We don’t get to have Keith back so there is no closure,” she said. “Life as I knew it has been changed forever and every day I have to make the choice to keep living and honouring my son’s life.
“We want to be at peace and in order to get peace, we must forgive you.”
Ross also factored in the guilty plea as a mitigating factor.
Aggravating factors included Charpentier’s lengthy criminal record, which includes 15 convictions, and his ongoing battle with substance addiction. The gun Charpentier used was not licensed. He ran away after shooting Baldwin and he committed the crime while on probation for another offence.
Charpentier has been in custody for 634 days, so time-and-a-half credit brings that to 954 days served. Today’s sentence adds approximately four years, and with statutory release after two thirds of a sentence is served, he’ll be released sooner.
The sentence includes a lifetime firearms ban, and Charpentier will have to submit to DNA testing.
“It is my hope that through counselling and programs, Mr. Charpentier will be able to rehabilitate himself and become a positive contributor to society,” Ross concluded.