Jeremy Davis put his hand to his chest as the judge rendered his verdict: Not guilty.
“I’m just glad that it’s over,” Davis said outside of B.C. Supreme Court. He was followed by a group of supporters who cheered, cried, clapped and gave accolades.
The man went free after facing a manslaughter charge for his involvement in the shooting death of a Shuswap drug dealer in 2011. He was formerly charged with second-degree murder. Nick Larsen, 24, was killed on June 1, 2011.
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Jordan Barnes pleaded guilty in 2016 for second-degree murder related to the incident. He was sentenced to life behind bars with no chance of parole for 10 years.
During his decision on Tuesday, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Dev Dley noted discrepancies in testimonies and evidence. He outlined an altercation originating at Barnes’ home that sent him enraged and intoxicated to “shit kick” Larsen.
Barnes’ testimony in February claimed he and Larsen became involved in a turf war over drug sales in Blind Bay the day before the shooting. According to Barnes at the time, Larsen pointed a gun at his chest and told him to stop selling drugs in the community.
Dley also detailed an incident in which Barnes had thought his pregnant partner had been assaulted by Larsen.
Davis said he drove Barnes to calm him down and happened upon Larsen in a Volkswagen, when Barnes pulled out a gun and shot and killed Larsen.
In February, Barnes said he got into the passenger seat of Davis’ SUV — with Davis at the wheel — to go searching for Larsen in Blind Bay. Barnes told the court he saw a handgun slide out from under the passenger seat and he used it to kill Larsen.
Barnes changed his story in April, claiming the gun was actually his and Davis knew nothing about it.
Dley noted discrepancies in evidence and went so far as to say testimony by Davis “stretched credulity.”
Dley instead looked at the evidence as a whole, noting testimony must be “scrutinized.”
He said it was reasonable Davis knew Barnes would get in a confrontation with Larsen, when he drove Barnes.
Dley accepted evidence from a traffic analyst who said the SUV cut off Larsen’s vehicle before the shooting. However, Dley said the evidence was consistent that Davis did not know Barnes had a gun and, in accepting the gun slid out from under the vehicle’s seat, he said Barnes did not intend to shoot Larsen.
“On an objective basis, Mr. Davis did not foresee bodily harm,” Dley said.
He said the Crown did not prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt, which led Davis to walk out of the courtroom a free man.
It is unclear whether the Crown will appeal the decision.