The preliminary hearing for William Sandeson got underway Monday in Halifax provincial court with the 23-year-old facing a charge of first-degree murder in the death of fellow Dalhousie University student Taylor Samson.
The hearing will determine if there is enough evidence for the case to proceed to trial.
“He’s doing as well as anybody could be under the circumstances,” defence laywer Eugene Tan said of Sandeson.
As the first witness took the stand, Sandeson could be seen taking notes and conferring with his lawyer during cross-examination.
“He wants to participate in his own defence,” Tan said. “He’s reading everything. He’s studying everything and he’s taking the opportunity to basically teach himself about the law so he’s putting every single moment to use.”
Prior to being charged with murder, Sandeson was enrolled as a medical student at Dalhousie University. He was arrested in August, four days after Samson was reported missing.
Police believe Sandeson killed Samson but have not revealed how. Sandeson, who has been in jail since his arrest, applied for bail in October, but a Supreme Court judge denied his application.
Investigators have executed a number of search warrants in the case, and spent days combing a large property in Lower Truro, N.S. that belongs to the Sandeson family.
Despite the exhaustive search efforts, Samson’s body has not been found.
“The investigation into the murder of Taylor Samson is still underway and ongoing,” Halifax Regional Police Const. Dianne Woodsworth said. “We have not located his remains.”
Even without a body, police are confident about the case.
“Our investigators have worked diligently to put this case forward and in order for it to go before the courts”, Woodsworth said. “We feel we have a strong case.”
There is a publication ban on the proceedings, which means details about witnesses who take the stand and what evidence is presented can’t be reported.
Crown attorney Susan MacKay said they plan to call more than a dozen witnesses.
“Obviously there’s a lot of evidence that we anticipate putting in the preliminary inquiry,” she said. “I can’t talk about what it is, but we expect we’re going to need the eight days set aside.”
The defence says they also plan to call their own witnesses during the preliminary hearing.
Testimony will continue on Wednesday morning.
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