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Shooting witness testifies at manslaughter sentencing in B.C. Supreme Court in Chilliwack

Crown and defence disagree on circumstances the night Owen Charpentier killed Keith Baldwin
RCMP on the scene on Fletcher Street in downtown Chilliwack on Oct. 22, 2019 after an overnight homicide. (Paul Henderson/ The Progress)

The manslaughter sentencing hearing for Owen Dale Charpentier continued Tuesday with the second witness, Rhiannon Lilly, who had been smoking fentanyl with Charpentier the night he killed Keith Baldwin.

The established facts of the case were that Baldwin, 27, was shot in the head by Charpentier, who was 25 at the time and a prolific offender. Charpentier pleaded guilty to manslaughter with a firearm for the incident that took place on the night of Oct. 22, 2019 in a car wash bay near Ruth and Naomi’s Mission at Fletcher Street.

The multi-day sentencing hearing started Monday in B.C. Supreme Court as a “Gardiner” hearing, which is used when Crown and defence differ on the exact circumstances of what happened during the commission of the offence.

READ MORE: Court to hear conflicting descriptions of events during Chilliwack manslaughter sentencing

Crown counsel Henry Waldock stated in court Monday that he’ll be seeking a nine to 10-year sentence for Charpentier.

Lilly laughed a little in court as she watched herself on security video for the first time, leaving the scene, heading home to her apartment behind Ruth and Naomi’s.

“I’m sorry to laugh,” said Rhiannon Lilly who sometimes goes by the name Ray. “It was me, just sketched out, I was laughing at. I was really high at the moment.”

Waldock had established that Lilly was struggling with substance use, usually heroin and fentanyl, with crystal meth on the side. He asked about fentanyl’s effect on people, and Lilly answered that some people pass out and some stay awake.

“It depends on who you are,” she said.

Waldock asked if fentanyl created hallucinations and Lilly replied “no.”

Lilly had been asked if she knew who was seated in the prisoner’s box.

“It’s Owen,” she said, adding she couldn’t pronounce his last name.

Lilly said she grew up with him, and his brothers, went to school with some of them and dated a younger brother.

Waldock asked she noticed any health problems he had. She said no, but then later admitted his right arm doesn’t work, but she never asked why.

“His right arm, he couldn’t lift it up,” she said.

On the night of the shooting, Lilly said she saw Charpentier and a girl in the car wash, and that she went up to them to say “hi. “

“I had a couple of tokes of fentanyl, and bought some off Owen,” Lilly said, adding that they talked for about five minutes.

At first she didn’t remember the name of the girl that had been with them but she said she had since remembered it.

“A guy comes up and starts yelling at Owen,” Lilly recounted.

The man who was approaching had “snuck up” to the group on the far right along the wall of the car wash bay, closest to the building.

Then the man yelled back, and shortly after she saw Charpentier’s left arm outstretched at a slightly bent angle in front of him.

She maybe 10 seconds later said she heard a loud bang, but never saw anything in Charpentier’s hand.

Baldwin’s eyes went “really wide,” at the sound of the big bang.

“Then I looked down and he was on the ground with a bunch of blood all over him,” she said.

Waldock asked Lilly: “What if anything could you see in his hands?” but she said she didn’t see anything, nor did she see him reaching for anything.

Crown counsel spent considerable time on establishing where Lilly was standing in relation to the car wash bays using the photo exhibits.

She said the group of three were all facing Ruth and Naomi’s Mission.

After the bang, Charpentier took off toward the 7-Eleven, and Lilly said she went off toward the back alley behind Ruth & Naomi’s, she said.

Lilly said she went home and stayed inside her apartment for the rest of the night.

On cross examination later in the day, defence counsel Simon Buck pressed Lilly on where they were in the car wash bay and how far away Baldwin was, suggesting her story was wrong while looking frame-by-frame at a security video of the killing.

Buck further pressed Lilly on how long she said Charpentier was holding the gun up, demonstrating by counting out 10 seconds.

“Are you exaggerating this?” he asked her.

“No, I’m telling the truth,” she replied.

Lilly’s testimony wrapped up Tuesday, and another witness is set to testify Wednesday morning. If the Gardiner hearing wraps up the court should hear victim impact statements.

with files from Paul Henderson

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Jennifer Feinberg

About the Author: Jennifer Feinberg

I have been a Chilliwack Progress reporter for 20+ years, covering the arts, city hall, as well as Indigenous, and climate change stories.
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