Vernon man who fired a gun at his girlfriend found guilty - InfoNews

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Vernon man who fired a gun at his girlfriend found guilty

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April 06, 2019 - 7:30 AM

VERNON - A Vernon man who pointed and fired a gun at his girlfriend after telling her this "was the only way she was going to leave" has been found guilty in a Vernon courtroom.

Derek Ryan Baptiste, born 1983, was found guilty, Feb. 27, of five of seven charges against him including intentionally discharging a firearm, pointing a firearm, assault and uttering threats to cause her death or bodily harm.

In the recently released decision Justice Sharon Matthews says on Jan. 6, 2018, Baptiste walked into the couple's bedroom in anger, pointed a rifle at his then-girlfriend, Joanne Jack, and fired it. The bullet missed Jack and left a hole above the bed.

Baptiste denies this, saying the weapon accidentally fired when Jack was holding it.

Court documents show Baptiste has a lengthy criminal and has fetal alcohol syndrome and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

According to the documents, Baptiste and Jack became a couple in the fall of 2017. Shortly afterwards Jack alleges he assaulted her. The couple drank heavily and used methamphetamine and heroin on a daily basis.

On the day of the shooting Baptiste and Jack were staying at Baptiste's father home near Vernon and had started drinking in the morning. In the early afternoon, the couple borrowed Baptiste's father's car to go out and buy beer. Baptiste claims while Jack was in the store buying beer, he walked across the street to get a newspaper from a newspaper box, and a person he didn't know approached him and offered to sell him a Simonov rifle with ammunition for $200.

Court documents state later that afternoon when back at Baptiste's fathers home, he pointed the rifle he had just purchased at Jack, and fired the gun. Baptiste's father, although very hard of hearing, heard the blast.

The following day Baptiste took his father's car and drove with the rifle to Oliver. Baptiste's father called the police and told them his vehicle had been stolen. Later that afternoon Vernon RCMP arrested Baptiste after he crashed the car into a ditch. The loaded rifle was found in the vehicle.

Court documents show two contradicting stories about the day's events from Baptiste and Jack.

The defence argued Jack had reason to lie and her evidence could not be relied upon because she has a significant criminal record, including an outstanding warrant for her arrest at the time of these events.

However, Justice Matthews said while some aspects of Jack's story did change while she was on the stand, independent evidence including testimony from Baptiste's father and evidence of the bullet trajectory allowed the judge to believe Jack.

Justice Matthews did, however, find Baptiste not guilty on two charges of assault that allegedly took place sometime within the two months leading up to the incident.

Baptiste is scheduled to be sentenced at a later date.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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