Murder victim last seen at William Sandeson’s apartment building, prosecutor tells jury
The jury in the murder trial of medical student William Sandeson heard today that the victim, Taylor Samson, was last seen on video walking down the hallway of Sandeson’s apartment building on Henry Street in Halifax. He was never seen leaving the building.
Crown attorney Susan MacKay said Samson had gone there for a drug deal.
She said in her opening address to the Nova Scotia Supreme Court jury that the pair had negotiated the sale of 20 pounds of marijuana for $40,000.
MacKay said Samson left his home and told his girlfriend that he would not be long, but never returned.
“We think that the evidence will show that there was planning and deliberation. And it’s planning and deliberation that makes murder, first-degree murder,” she told reporters after delivering her remarks in court.
WATCH: William Sandeson ‘confident’ as murder trial begins in Halifax: defence
MacKay told the court that police found a bullet lodged inside a window frame at Sandeson’s residence which had Samson’s DNA on it. She also said Sandeson gave different versions of his encounter with Samson to police.
According to MacKay, the seven-women, seven-men jury can expect to see a variety of evidence throughout the trial.
“You can expect to see video statements given by the accused. There will be some cell phone text messages that will be put before the jury. There will be other exhibits and documents and physical evidence,” she said.
Linda Boutiller, the mother of Taylor Samson, was the first Crown witness to testify.
She told the court her son was about to start his fifth year of university and that they had a close relationship. Boutiller says they would often talk multiple times a day and sometimes Samson would send her messages to just say, “I love you, Mom.”
Boutiller told the court she travelled from her home in Amherst, N.S., to Halifax immediately after finding out her son was missing. Once in Halifax, Boutillier said she gave statements to the police about information she received from some of Samson’s friends. She also searched the streets for any sign of her missing son.
Although she testified she was aware Samson was selling marijuana, Boutillier said she was surprised when she learned at court he was allegedly involved in a drug deal involving 20 pounds of the drug.
Multiple police officers testify at trial
Four police officers involved in the original missing person’s investigation also took the stand. The first to testify was Sgt. Tanya Chambers-Spriggs.
Chambers-Spriggs told the court that she spoke with Boutillier when she arrived at Halifax Regional Police headquarters. The officer testified that Boutiller told police Samson had a liver disease and needed medication. She was also informed that Samson may have had a large quantity of marijuana on him when he disappeared.
Chambers-Spriggs also said that she attempted to ping Samson’s cell phone to get a location, but the device was either out of range or off and was unsuccessful.
Det./Const. Kenneth Blake was the second officer to take the stand. He was called in to help with the missing persons file.
Blake testified that with Chambers-Spriggs help, he became aware of the last phone number to have been used on Samson’s phone.
He told the court that the phone number was part of a free, internet-based service and required little information to register. Blake said the only information they could get from the service provider was that the phone was registered to someone with the nickname of John John and was linked to an iPhone. Blake said he was able to track the IP address from where the phone was allegedly set up to a Lower Sackville, N.S. address.
He also testified that he was the exhibit officer involved in a search at a South Street residence where officers seized 185.5 grams of marijuana and cash.
Det./Const. Randy Wood and his former partner Sgt. Bobby Clyke were also Crown witnesses on Thursday. Both men told the court that they went to a group home for people with intellectual disabilities in Lower Sackville, where officers previously tracked the IP address.
Both Wood and Clyke said the two women working at the home did not know anything about Samson’s disappearance, but told them that there was a computer at the facility for staff to use. Wood also testified that the Wi-Fi at the building did not require a password and he was able to immediately connect to the internet with his phone.
WATCH: The man charged in Taylor Samon’s death was back before a provincial court judge. Global Court Reporter Natasha Pace has more.
In total, the crown expects to call 30 witnesses.
Family want Taylor’s body
Samson’s stepmother Karen Burke and stepsister, Kathleen Hollett were also in attendance. The women sat through all the evidence and say they plan to attend every day of the eight week trial.
“I’m sure we’re gonna see stuff that we didn’t see in the preliminary. You know, a little bit more evidence,” said Burke. “I’m prepared for that. Because I think we picture all the worst in our mind anyway.”
“I’m glad the process is started. But I can’t wait for it to be over and for justice to be served,” said Hollett.
Although both Burke and Hollett say they’re happy to see the trial start, the women say they really want one thing: to know where Samson’s remains are.
“I hope there’s enough evidence through the trial that Sandeson will admit guilt and tell us where Taylor is,” said Burke. “Usually you have a body and not the murderer.”
“I want to know where Taylor is. I don’t know if that will ever happen but that’s what I’m hoping for,” said Hollett. “There isn’t real closure.”
—With files from The Canadian Press
© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.