Kelowna Law Courts. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)

Vernon man faces new shooting trial after he was jailed for firing gun above girlfriend’s head

Derek Ryan Baptiste allegedly fired two shots into a basement suite in 2018, one of which struck a woman in the neck

A Vernon man currently imprisoned for shooting a gun over his girlfriend’s head is back on trial for allegedly shooting a woman in her living room earlier that same day.

Derek Ryan Baptiste appeared in B.C. Supreme Court in Kelowna on Tuesday, Sept. 8, facing trial for three charges related to a Jan. 6, 2018 incident in which he allegedly fired two shots into a basement suite on 24th Avenue in Vernon — one of those bullets striking a woman in the neck, nearly killing her.

He pleaded not guilty to all three charges including the unlawful discharge of a firearm, aggravated assault and use of a firearm to commit an indictable offence.

The Crown began its case Tuesday morning, alleging Baptiste drove his father’s car to 3709 24th Avenue just after 1 a.m. on Jan. 6, 2018, and unloaded two shots from a rifle through a basement window into a living room. Shortly after, a neighbour called 911 to report a woman had been struck in the neck.

At the time, RCMP stated that the woman sustained life-threatening injuries.

From there, Baptiste is alleged to have gone back to his the trailer owned by his father, Richard Oppenheimer, where he and his girlfriend, Joanne Jack, shared a room. The Crown said Oppenheimer will testify he heard a gunshot ring out in the room below him, after which Baptiste left the trailer, again in his father’s vehicle.

In the early morning hours Jan. 8, 2018, RCMP responded to a car that had gone off-road near the fire hall on Westside Road near Vernon, where they located Baptiste in the drivers’ seat and a loaded rifle in the car that matched the discarded cartridges found at both scenes.

The 24-day trial is anticipated to continue, in Kelowna, throughout September and early October.

READ MORE: Firearm, aggravated assault charges filed against Vernon man

READ MORE: Sentencing date set for Kelowna man who pleaded guilty to possessing child porn

Previously, Baptiste was handed a four-and-a-half-year sentence after pointing and shooting a gun over the head of his then-girlfriend, Jack — also on Jan. 6, 2018. According to court documents from the December 2019 sentencing, Baptiste pointed a rifle at Jack’s head in the two’s shared room at Oppenheimer’s home and told her it was “the only way she was going to leave the situation she was in.” He aimed the rifle above her head and pulled the trigger.

The two had been drinking heavily at the time of the incident and were using heroin and methamphetamine daily. During that trial, Baptiste claimed he was suffering from painful withdrawal symptoms, as they had used the last of their drugs the previous day.

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email: michael.rodriguez@kelownacapnews.com


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