Forcible confinement sentencing faces ‘troublesome’ delays

James Colt Wilson is among several people charged with forcible confinement, robbery and assault

The trial of a man who allegedly shot his roommate is expected to wrap up Tuesday in Penticton court. File photo

After the defence and judge were all set to sentence a man connected to the forcible confinement, beating and robbing of a Summerland man, the case has been adjourned due to “troublesome” confusion from Crown lawyers.

James Colt Wilson was among several people charged over the incident, in which a victim was reportedly cornered by men wearing hoodies and bandanas and brandishing weapons, tied up, beaten and robbed in April 2016.

Sentencing was scheduled for Wilson, along with William Soloman and Candace Waller, with Wilson and Soloman both having entered guilty pleas. However, Soloman, appearing over video from a Surrey corrections facility, had asked that his sentencing be delayed so he could get more information from his lawyer and appear in person.

Related: Penticton RCMP lay charges in case of forcible confinement

Waller, who wasn’t present in person or by video, had not intended a guilty plea, and had been adjourned to another time, while Wilson appeared ready for sentencing.

But the Crown lawyer who had been on the case since the beginning wasn’t in the courthouse on Monday, passing the case to Ogi Harris to carry out the sentencing.

A statement of facts from Harris indicated that the then-59-year-old victim had been lured to the house of Soloman’s sister, Amy Soloman, whom the victim had been in an affair with.

Having gone to Princeton to see family, Amy reportedly left her phone behind, which allegedly allowed her ex-husband, Shannon Masuskapoe, to see her texts with the victim.

Masuskapoe allegedly used that phone to lure the victim to the home, where he was confronted with a number of men who formed a semi-circle around the victim. Most held knives, while one man allegedly brandished a meat cleaver and Masuskapoe an unidentified silver object.

Masuskapoe allegedly hit the victim in the mouth with the object and a bag was put over his head.

The victim had spent several hours forcibly confined within the house on Pickering Street, where he had been hit several times, including with the meat cleaver. The victim added that he had been ordered to give his captors money and information for his bank cards.

The man was reportedly freed by Masuskapoe, who loosened his legs and placed his shoes near the front door, allowing him to free his own hands and make a run.

While the Crown was seeking three-to-four years imprisonment for that incident, as well as several months for other fraud charges, to which Wilson had also pleaded guilty, defence lawyer James Pennington argued that many of the facts in the statement didn’t apply to Wilson.

Wilson, he argued, had only been brought into the incident as added muscle, which was ultimately never used, though, he did admit to his part in the robbery. Wilson had reportedly been party to the theft and use of the victim’s cash and cards.

But the Crown lawyer present was unable to speak to Pennington’s assertion that Wilson played no part in the physical abuse or the forcible confinement, which caused some apparent ire in Judge Gregory Koturbash, who called the issue “troubling.”

Along with that confusion, there was some uncertainty as to whether the three-to-four years would be applicable to Wilson, who allegedly had not been part of the assault or the forcible confinement.

To add to the issue, the regular Crown lawyer was reportedly unavailable until mid-July, as he had been preparing for an upcoming homicide case. Harris was ultimately able to get a hold of the Crown lawyer, who came in at the last minute to speak to the case, noting that he didn’t believe there was much discrepancy between the defence case and the Crown case.

“They certainly were a part of the intimidation,” the lawyer said. “I believe (the victim’s) testimony was that they had knives. There was no punches thrown, or actual physical contact made between Mr. Soloman, Mr. Wilson and (the victim).”

Koturbash appeared concerned about the confusion, though, noting that the Crown counsel should be present for sentencing.

“I need to know exactly what facts the Crown are relying on,” Koturbash said. “I see this being somewhat troublesome in sort of having Ms. Harris have to parachute in and have to try to respond to those (disagreements).”

After a lengthy day of delays in the case, Koturbash adjourned the case, at the request of the Crown, so lawyers on the case could come to an agreed statement of facts with no objections from either side.

“I know Mr. Wilson’s not happy about that, so I’m going to encourage that you try to get this back on track in front of me as soon as possible,” Koturbash said.

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