Canfield, who is engaged to that woman's sister, fired a razor-tipped arrow into Paulsen's abdomen in self-defense, Zucker said, and may not have meant to release the arrow at all. Canfield's fingers may have slipped or the bow misfired, possibly because Paulsen was charging toward him, Zucker said. Canfield then panicked and hid arrows in the attic, and later moved the bow to a wooded area in Winslow Township, Zucker said, but he also called 9-1-1 to report the incident.
"It's a tragedy," Zucker said outside the courthouse. "He certainly didn't intend to kill him."
Assistant Camden County Prosecutor Howard Gilfert said Canfield is registered as a sex offender in New Jersey, stemming from an endangerment charge involving a 4-year-old when he was a juvenile. He was also charged with burglary and theft in Mercer County in 2008.
Paulsen had gotten into a fistfight with a man at the home about 10 p.m. on Monday, and stuck around after it broke up, authorities said.
Canfield grabbed the bow and went outside. Gilfert said Canfield's arrow perforated the iliac vein in Paulsen's pelvis and instead of trying to help, Canfield went inside, hid the arrows and put the bow in his truck.
"He hid evidence while Paulsen lay bleeding," Gilfert said.
When a neighbor asked what was wrong with Paulsen, Canfield said he'd been drinking, Gilfert said.
Paulsen, a Cape May Courthouse resident who worked at a Wildwood restaurant, later died at Virtua Hospital in Berlin. He had a 5-year-old daughter.
His parents, along with his brother and sister, sobbed in the courtroom Wednesday and declined to comment after proceedings.
Zucker said that the family had bolted the windows closed on their Brill Avenue home because Paulsen had sneaked in before and that Berlin Borough police had visited numerous times because he was stalking his ex-girlfriend. A law-enforcement source said police had visited the home at least three times to deal with Paulsen.
According to court records, Paulsen was arrested Jan. 21 at the PATCO High Speed Line station in Lindenwold for possession of Suboxone, a painkiller sometimes used to treat opioid addictions. He has been arrested several times in Lindenwold on drug charges.
Canfield said nothing during the brief hearing. His fiancee and other family members sat behind him, wiping tears. Family members declined to comment after the hearing.
Zucker said that Canfield was a target shooter. A neighborhood resident who requested anonymity said he was a skilled archer.
"If he had wanted to kill this guy, he could have," the woman told the Daily News Tuesday.
"He would have shot him straight through the heart."
On Twitter: @JasonNark