Man threatened girlfriend, fired rifle above her head

3 years for threat, gunfire

A Vernon man will serve three years in jail for a shooting incident on Okanagan Indian Band land in 2018.

Derek Ryan Baptiste was sentenced in B.C. Supreme Court on charges including unlawfully discharging a firearm, pointing a firearm, assault, and uttering a threat.

On Jan. 6, 2018, at the home of his father, Richard Oppenheimer, Baptiste threatened his partner Joanne Jack with an SKS rifle, saying that was the only way she would be leaving

They were drinking heavily, and at the time, were using heroin and methamphetamine daily, court heard. They used the last of their drugs the day before, and Baptiste was said to be experiencing heroin withdrawal.

The couple argued, and Jack feared Baptiste was trying to choke her.

Baptiste later left the residence and met with a man who sold him the rifle. Oppenheimer testified that his son walked into the house carrying the gun, and walked past him into the bedroom without saying a word. 

"If you are going to shoot me, just get it over with, as long as it makes you feel like a man," Jack told him.

Jack turned away, and as she looked back Baptiste pulled the trigger, firing above her head. 

The next day, Baptiste left in his father's vehicle, which Oppenheimer reported stolen. 

Early on Jan. 8, 2018, Vernon RCMP responded to a car that had gone off the road on the reserve. Baptiste was behind the wheel, and the rifle was inside the car, loaded with a single cartridge in its chamber ready to be fired.

Madam Justice Matthews sentenced Baptiste concurrently on the charges to a term of four years and six months. With credit for pretrial custody, that reduced the time he will serve to 1,123 days, or three years and 28 days.

Matthews noted Baptiste suffers from fetal alcohol spectrum disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity. He began drinking himself at the age of five. He was sexually abused when he was 13 years old by an older patient at an addictions centre for teenagers in Calgary. 

Baptiste's criminal record began when he was 13 years old, and he has been previously convicted 65 times. He was on probation at the time of the offences and was subject to a lifetime firearm and weapons prohibition.

In her written statement of sentencing, Matthews said Baptiste has taken only ineffective steps to rehabilitate, is resistant to acknowledge the severity of his disability, and showed no remorse, while maintaining his innocence.

"I hope and expect that by the time you have finished serving this term in prison, you will be completely committed to becoming clean and sober, staying clean and sober, and receiving help for the trauma you have experienced in your life so far," said Matthews.

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