There was a heavy police presence at the Dartmouth courthouse Monday for an appearance by Steven Douglas Skinner on a charge of second-degree murder.
The 44-year-old Cole Harbour man is accused of shooting Stacey Adams to death at a home in Lake Echo in 2011.
Skinner, a former MMA fighter, fled the country after the killing. He was arrested on a beach in Venezuela in May 2016 and was extradited from the South American country on the weekend.
Skinner’s appearance in Dartmouth provincial court lasted barely a minute.
At the request of lawyer Kelly Serbu, the case was adjourned until July 5, when dates will be set for a preliminary inquiry.
Judge Dan MacRury remanded Skinner back to the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility in Dartmouth.
Numerous Halifax Regional Police officers — including members of the force’s emergency response team — and sheriff’s deputies cordoned off the parking lot of the courthouse for Skinner’s arrival in a sheriff’s van.
Reporters and photographers were ordered out of the parking lot and onto the adjacent grass.
Gloria Adams, Stacey’s mother, observed Skinner’s arrival from the edge of the parking lot with her supporters and yelled at him as he was escorted into the building.
“I want him to see me,” Adams told reporters after Skinner appeared in court.
“I want him to look at the woman that raised that young man. He felt that he had the right to walk in and play judge and jury and take his life.
“I want him to be held accountable. I want him to own it by his own admission, that he’s wrong, he’s guilty. Let’s just get this over with and give me back my life. They can’t give me back my son, but give me back my life.”
Stacey Adams, 20, of Dartmouth was found dead in a car parked outside a house on Shadewell Lane in April 2011.
Police obtained a warrant for Skinner’s arrest that July and charged Brittany Leigh Derbyshire, 29, of Fletchers Lake with being an accessory to murder after the fact.
Derbyshire was accused of helping Skinner get away by driving him to the Moncton airport and of concealing and destroying evidence. She was found not guilty in January 2015 after a judge ruled her confession to two RCMP officers posing as outlaw motorcycle gang members was inadmissible at trial.
The Crown unsuccessfully appealed that decision to the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal, and the Supreme Court of Canada this year dismissed an application for leave to appeal the case.
Gloria Adams said she was at work Saturday when she got a call from a homicide detective informing her Skinner was back on Canadian soil.
She said it was bittersweet to see her son’s alleged killer in court Monday.
“Seeing is believing,” she said. “I had to see it to believe it. I hardly slept last night.”
She said she made a promise to her son a couple of weeks before his death that if anyone ever killed him, she would find the person who did it.
“I can’t predict what’s going to happen in court,” she said. “I can’t even predict what the next step is. But all I know is I now have closure to my promise. The rest is up to the justice (system).”
She said the past six years have been really hard for her.
“When something like this happens to a family, a mom, you’re thrown into a world that you don’t even know exists. I went into a rage that I never thought as a human being and as a mother I was capable of having.”
She referred to Skinner as a coward and a snake and said he didn’t do his homework before he allegedly decided to take her son out of this world.
“You took on a mother,” she said. “There is no other like this mother. … I fear nothing, because you took everything away from me.”
Skinner also faces eight charges — including aggravated assault, forcible confinement, assault with a weapon, possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose and uttering threats — from an incident in Lower Sackville in July 2009.
He was arrested in Ontario later that month on those charges and was returned to Nova Scotia, where he earned his release from custody.