A Kings County man has pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the 2017 beating death of a friend.
Nikolas Derrick Salsman of New Minas was originally charged with second-degree murder, but pleaded to the lesser charge in Supreme Court in Kentville on Monday on what was to be the start of a 15-day trial.
Salsman was arrested on the morning of Sept. 24, 2017, after the body of 34-year-old Trevor Allen Joseph Pelton was found in the yard of his parents’ home on Lockhart Drive in New Minas.
Salsman, 32, answered “Yes, my Lord” to several questions Justice Gregory Warner asked him to confirm his plea was being made freely, and that he understood what was happening.
Salsman replied that he was not pressured into the plea in response to another question from Warner.
“Absolutely not, I’m doing it voluntarily,” he said.
When Warner said he was prepared to accept the guilty plea, Salsman thanked him.
“Mr. Salsman is admitting all the essential elements of the offence of manslaughter,” defence lawyer Pat MacEwen told Warner.
An agreed statement of facts was being prepared but not ready to be read into the record Monday, Crown Attorney Jim Fyfe told Warner.
Salsman will return to court later this year for sentencing after a pre-sentence report is completed.
Outside court, Fyfe said discussions had been going on for some time about the possibility of a manslaughter plea.
“It’s always a difficult decision, it’s a very high-stakes decision for everyone,” he said.
“For the Crown, we feel that having reviewed all the evidence, that this is a reasonable result.
“It was a result based on the facts that we have, and we have to look at the likelihood of conviction on second-degree murder if he had gone to trial.”
While no joint agreement on a sentencing recommendation has been reached at this point, “we’re anticipating there will be,” Fyfe said.
He said that possibility was helpful in working toward the manslaughter plea.
While there is no minimum sentence for manslaughter when there is not a firearm involved, he said the Crown is looking for jail time for Salsman.
MacEwen said outside court that a guilty plea spares people from both sides having to testify or sit through a trial.
“Obviously that is something we take into account, but at the end of the day it was his decision to accept responsibility for manslaughter, and that was done in consultation with myself and the Crown.”