The man who shot and killed a Lake Country man back in 2003 is seeking the opportunity to apply for early parole, more than 15 years after he was convicted of first-degree murder.
David Poirier was one of four people arrested in January 2006, when he was just 26 years old, and charged with the first-degree murder of Douglas Kuntz. Kuntz had been gunned down in his Carr’s Landing garage on Feb. 27th, 2003.
Poirier, the trigger man, and Paul Roop, who drove the getaway car, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in October 2007 and were sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years. Joshua Fell pleaded guilty to being an accessory to murder after the fact and was sentenced to time served.
This week, Poirier is in Kelowna’s B.C. Supreme Court, asking a 12-person jury to reduce his parole eligibility time.
Under Section 745 of the Criminal Code, a person serving a life sentence can seek a judicial review of their parole eligibilty after serving at least 15 years of a sentence. The provision is commonly referred to as the “Faint Hope Clause,” but a 2011 bill by Stephen Harper’s Conservative Government eliminated the clause for any offences committed after Dec. 2, 2011.
Poirier, wearing glasses and a blue sweater over a white collared shirt, took the stand in Kelowna court Wednesday and spoke about how the more than 17 years he’s spent in custody, along with the recent death of his son, have changed him.
“I’ve done enough damage … and I don’t hold it against anybody if I had to do all my time in prison,” Poirier said.
“I’ve committed a horrific crime, I’ve hurt a family, and if the family feels like me, I wouldn’t want to let me out. But I know that I can make a difference, I can do some good with this, I can use this and turn it around and be a productive member of society.”
Poirier spoke about how his son died from a fentanyl overdose while in custody, after his son had been arrested for a firearms offence while Poirier was in prison. He said his son had gone down a bad path, and he was unable to speak to him much through the COVID-19 pandemic, during his prison’s lockdown.
“He was segregated for two years at Surrey Pretrial and he overdosed two days before getting out,” Poirier said, before breaking down in tears.
“I will not go down a road of destruction from this … everything that’s happened in my life has kind of led to this, his destruction. And I will not do it anymore, I won’t allow it. I won’t allow anymore suffering from decisions I’ve made.
“I really understand the pain and suffering I caused the family of Mr. Kuntz from this. I wish I didn’t have to learn it this way, but unfortunately I had to learn the hardest lesson you can learn.”
He said he’d like the opportunity to try and help others from making the same mistakes he made.
“I can’t change it, all I can do is do things that honour the individuals who have passed – my son, Mr. Kuntz, his family – and show that I’ve learned something from this and I can give back,” he said. “I can use my experiences of what I’ve learned and what I know and maybe stop some youth from going down the same road that hurts somebody, causing more pain.”
At some point during his incarceration, Poirier was transferred from Agassiz’s Kent Institution, B.C.’s only maximum-security prison, to the Mission Institution, a medium-security prison.
“It was a huge difference, the officers are working with you, you’re talking with them, they’re pro-social, they’re willing to help you, you’re going to programs,” he said.
He spent the COVID pandemic at Mission Institution, where he said inmates were locked in their cells for 23 hours and 40 minutes per day.
“People were dropping, dying. Officers left the grounds,” he said, adding three people died on his unit.
He’s recently been granted leave to be transferred to a minimum-security prison, something he described as a “long, hard road,” but he’s yet to make the move.
Ultimately, the 12-person jury will decide whether Poirier will be able to apply to the Parole Board of Canada before his 25-year year parole eligibility period. His hearing is scheduled to continue through to next week. But even if the jury grants him this, it will be up to the Parole Board to decide if he can be granted first day parole, and then full parole.
Back in 2006, the Crown alleged Poirier, Fell and Roop were recruited by Dale Habib to carry out the 2003 murder of Kuntz, to relieve Habib’s friend of a $300,000 debt to Kuntz.
According to a 2006 BC Court of Appeal decision, Poirier, Fell and Roop told undercover operatives that Habib “was actively involved in the planning of the murder and had recruited them to kill the victim.” But Habib argued the three men had only said that after the operatives had told them they wanted to “stick the murder on the Habibs."
The Crown eventually dropped its murder charge against Habib before it ever went to trial. While the reason the charge was dropped was never disclosed by the Crown, as is generally the case, the court had previously said the Crown's case against Habib was solely dependent on the three “unreliable witnesses” who had made “inconsistent statements” about Habib's involvement.