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Steven Douglas Skinner after being arrested in Playa El Yaque, on Margarita Island in Venezuela.HO

A Nova Scotia man Colombian authorities allege is a former drug kingpin has pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of manslaughter in a fatal shooting more than eight years ago.

Steven Skinner entered the plea in Nova Scotia Supreme Court on Tuesday as his four-week trial on charge of second-degree murder was set to begin in the April, 2011 death of Stacey Adams in Lake Echo, N.S.

The second-degree murder indictment was withdrawn after a deal was struck between Crown prosecutors and the defence for Skinner to plead guilty to the lesser charge, Global News reported.

Crown attorneys Eric Taylor and Robert Kennedy say their decision to offer a deal came down to the evidence they had available to them.

Taylor told reporters outside court the “Achilles heel” in the case was the fact they had witnesses who had refused to co-operate with police, Global News says.

Adams’s family will have the opportunity to submit victim impact statements at Skinner’s sentencing hearing scheduled for Sept. 16, while both the Crown and defence will submit an agreed statement of facts ahead of the hearing.

Skinner was arrested by Venezuelan law enforcement on Margarita Island in 2016, and was extradited to Canada in 2017 to face charges in the death of Adams.

A photo released by Venezuelan authorities after his arrest showed the one-time fugitive in colourful swim trunks, with tattoos on both arms and his bare chest covered in sand.

Last September, the Office of the Attorney General of Colombia said in a press release that Skinner, a former MMA fighter, organized a drug trafficking network called Morfhox with Daniel “El Loco“’ Barrera.

The attorney general said that along with his accomplice – whom he allegedly later killed before fleeing to neighbouring Venezuela – Skinner recruited drug mules to smuggle cocaine to Canada, the United States and Europe.

An international warrant for Skinner’s arrest was issued by police shortly after Adams was found dead. The RCMP worked with Venezuelan authorities for more than a year before Skinner was arrested.

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