Former Lillooet man charged with murder sentenced to time served for manslaughter

Jeffery Harris was 36 on Feb. 10, 2015, when he stabbed Gary Mandseth to death

  • Aug. 31, 2020 2:50 p.m.

-Kamloops This Week

A former Lillooet man who was found guilty in 2017 of second-degree murder has been sentenced to time served for the crime of manslaughter after B.C.’s highest court — the BC Court of Appeal — threw out his original conviction.

Jeffery Harris was 36 on Feb. 10, 2015, when he stabbed Gary Mandseth to death. Mandseth, 61, was known in Lillooet as a drug dealer and Harris was addicted to heroin after being prescribed opioids following a previous workplace injury.

Harris pleaded guilty to one count of manslaughter during an hour-long hearing on Monday in B.C. Supreme Court in Kamloops.

Harris has claimed in the past that he has no recollection of Mandseth’s slaying. He has said Mandseth injected him with cocaine, causing him to black out.

READ MORE: Kelowna man charged in multiple 2019 robberies has case returned to provincial court

At the time of Mandseth’s slaying, Harris was using heroin multiple times daily and selling cocaine — which he obtained from Mandseth — to support his addiction.

Witnesses to Mandseth’s death described an exceptionally violent scene. A BC Ambulance paramedic broke down in tears in court while describing what he encountered when responding to the initial 911 call.

Court heard Mandseth’s cause of death was found to be multiple stab wounds to the chest.

Witnesses said they saw Harris attacking Mandseth, saying, “I am killing him because he killed me first.”

Harris testified in his own defence at trial. He did not deny stabbing Mandseth to death, but maintained he was in a chaotic, drug-induced blackout when the attack took place.

Following his conviction in 2017, Harris was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 10 years.

Defence lawyers Donna Turko and Talia Magder successfully appealed Harris’ conviction on the grounds the trial judge failed to properly instruct jurors regarding the defence of provocation and involuntary intoxication.

Harris was initially arrested a short time after Mandseth’s death. He spent more than four-and-a-half years in prison and federal custody before being released on bail in September 2019, four months after a three-judge B.C. Court of Appeal panel ruled in his favour.

Now 41, Harris lives and works in Calgary. He has no prior criminal record.

In addition to the time-served sentence, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Michael Tammen also placed Harris on a lengthy probation term. For 18 months, he will have to abstain from illegal drugs and stay at least two kilometres away from the village of Lillooet.

Harris will also be bound by a lifetime firearms prohibition and required to provide a sample of his DNA to a national criminal database.

READ MORE: Serious North Okanagan motorcycle crash sparks probe into police work

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Court

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Morning Start: There is a Hot Pink Lake in Australia

Your morning start for Friday, Sept. 25, 2020

Penticton Vees name NHL prospect as assistant captain

The Vees kick off the Okanagan Cup tournament Sept. 25 at 6 p.m. at the SOEC

GoByBike Week is back, celebrating 10th anniversary in Penticton

Registered participants are eligible for various perks and prizes

‘Schools are healthy’: IH medical health officer

Children have a low risk of catching and spreading COVID-19

Penticton quadruple murder trial begins in Kelowna next month

John Brittain, 69, is facing three counts of first-degree murder and one count of second-degree murder

B.C.’s top doctor thanks supporters after revealing threats over COVID-19 measures

Dr. Bonnie Henry says COVID-19 has caused some people to lash out in anger and frustration out of fear

97 distressed horses, cats and dogs seized from farm in Princeton

RCMP assisted as BC SPCA executed search warrant

NDP, Greens divided on pace of child care improvements in B.C. election campaign

NDP Leader John Horgan recommitted to $10-a-day child care and blamed the Greens for not supporting his efforts

BC Liberal Leader talks drug addiction in the Lower Mainland

Drug addiction and public safety a top priority says Andrew Wilkinson

Kamloops Mounties happened upon alleged gang-related robbery, kidnapping

Michael Mathieson is charged with armed robbery, unlawful confinement and kidnapping

Pandemic derails CP Holiday Train

Canadian Pacific will work to get donations to food banks while also producing an online music concert

Interior Health reports five new COVID-19 cases

Across the region, 34 cases are active

Vanderhoof’s Brian Frenkel takes on top job in tough times

We can get through this, new local government leader says

Historic BC Tree Fruits head office in Okanagan for sale

The company’s CEO said the decision was necessary due to a fickle fruit market

Most Read