Man acquitted in shooting that paralyzed woman faces new gun charges

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Man acquitted in shooting that paralyzed woman faces new gun charges

The Cole Harbour, N.S., man acquitted last month of shooting and seriously wounding a woman in a home invasion three years ago is in trouble with the law again.

Markel Jason Downey, 21, is one of three men charged after shots were fired toward a home in North Preston early Tuesday morning and police responding to the call spotted a gun being tossed from a vehicle.

The other two men charged are Shiquawn Marcel Upshaw-Paris, 20, of Halifax and Keauno Remello Fraser, 20, of North Preston. 

All three were scheduled to appear in Dartmouth provincial court on Wednesday on multiple weapons charges, including careless use of a firearm, possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose and carrying a concealed weapon.

Home invasion acquittal

Last month, Downey was acquitted of 28 charges relating to a 2014 home invasion in Cole Harbour in which Ashley MacLean Kearse was shot and left paralyzed from the chest down.

The Crown is appealing Downey's acquittal.

At his trial, Kearse insisted Downey was the one who shot her. Three young offenders pleaded guilty to participating in the home invasion and were dealt with by youth court.

In a phone interview Tuesday, Kearse said she was concerned about the new charges.

"It's kind of like history repeating itself," said Kearse. "I'm worried about everyone else because if people were to see the damage it has done to me and people around me, you don't want to see that happen to anybody else."​

During Downey's court appearance on Wednesday, court heard that he is also accused of having a dangerous weapon — a shank made out of a sharpened piece of wood — at the Burnside jail while he was in custody during the home invasion trial in January.

Pat MacEwan, Downey's lawyer, said these new charges have nothing to do with the previous case — in which his client was acquitted.

"Obviously the public is aware of Mr. Downey's circumstances. He's before the court, he is presumed innocent and I will leave it at that," said MacEwan.

This week's shooting

In the incident Tuesday morning, RCMP said officers were called to a home on Cain Street in North Preston amid complaints the home had been hit by numerous gunshots.

As they were responding, police encountered a vehicle that refused to stop. RCMP followed the vehicle and say someone threw a gun out a window.

The vehicle was eventually stopped on the Forest Hills Extension and three men were arrested. Two guns were later recovered on the side of the road.