Convicted killer William Sandeson was sentenced to life in prison Tuesday at Nova Scotia Supreme Court in Halifax.
After 22 hours of deliberations, a six-man, six-woman jury found Sandeson, 24, guilty of the first-degree murder of Taylor Samson last month.
Samson was studying physics at Dalhousie University in August 2015, when he disappeared.
The 22-year-old was last seen alive on video surveillance, walking down the hallway of Sandeson’s Henry Street apartment with him on the night of Aug. 15, 2015.
He is never seen leaving the apartment.
WATCH: Last images of Taylor Samson shown to jury in William Sandeson murder trial
A first-degree murder conviction comes with an automatic life sentence with no parole eligibility for 25 years.
When given the opportunity by the judge to speak to the court, Sandeson declined.
On Tuesday, Judge Josh Arnold officially sentenced Sandeson — but not before the court heard from some of Samson’s loved ones.
In total, 18 victim impact statements were submitted to the court. Only a few were read aloud, including one from Ryan Wilson, one of Taylor Samson’s best friends.
Wilson, 24, told the court his family was visiting him in Ontario when he learned that Taylor was missing.
He described the “feeling of emptiness” he had when he learned that someone had been charged with murdering his friend.
Wilson said he felt it was important to read his victim impact statement in court and tried to make eye contact with Sandeson as he described how his friend’s death has impacted his life.
“He deserves to know what he did. Not only to Taylor but to people around him. He took away a lot. It wasn’t just one life. He took away dozens,” Wilson said outside court. “I’ve made eye contact as much as possible and I’ve never seen as much as a smirk or a smile. He’s as cold as they come.
“He crushed a family, he crushed friends.”
Wilson says he carries Taylor with him and now has TS1 tattooed on his wrist. TS standing for Taylor Samson and 1 for Samson’s baseball number when they played together.
Kaitlynne Lowe, 23, also chose to read her victim impact statement to a packed courtroom on Monday.
Lowe described Samson as “her gravity” and said he inspired everyone, was a leader and worked hard for his family, who he said always came first for him.
“Saying I miss him is an insult,” Lowe said.
“I can’t eat. I can’t sleep,” she told the court, adding she has been ravaged by depression and anxiety since Samson’s death.
“My life hasn’t been the same. I literally have been scheduling my entire two years around attending court and making sure I’m there for friends. It’s a miracle I graduated,” Lowe told reporters outside court.
Connor Samson, Taylor’s younger brother, also read his victim impact statement.
Connor, who has autism, told the court how his brother’s death has affected him and that he is scared of losing someone else close to him.
“Emotionally, I feel scared,” he said.
“I just want to be myself again. The happy-go-lucky guy, not the guy who has to wear a mask.”
Despite multiple searches, the body of Taylor Samson has never been recovered.
Despite a murder conviction, Halifax Regional Police say their investigation remains open.
A GoFundMe Campaign has been set up to help Taylor’s family raise funds for a cadaver dog, private investigators and search teams — all to continue the search for closure.
“That’s one of the reasons why the GoFundMe page is set up to help find his remains or what’s left of him,” said Wilson.
“Will’s family can go see him in prison if they wanted to and we don’t even have any sort of place for Taylor and I think that beyond anything Linda and Connor deserve that,” Lowe said.
“It’s absolutely unspeakable. I mean, people in history would go through battlefields to bring back soldiers and the fact that Will knows where Taylor is, in detail what happened and still won’t be able to give us that final piece of mind.”
WATCH: Taylor Samson’s family ‘relieved’ by guilty verdict but still seek closure
William Sandeson has already filed an appeal of his first-degree murder conviction.
The grounds for the appeal are that Sandeson was detained prior to his first interview and denied a right to counsel, that his cellphone was illegally searched and seized, that his apartment was illegally searched, and that information shared by Bruce Webb — a private investigator hired by the defence but helped the police in making their case — violated his solicitor-client privilege.
“Until he has been literally told by every single court in Canada possible that your conviction stands, you’re guilty of first degree, until every option is taken away and every glimmer of hope is extinguished from his life, I’m not going to be satisfied,” said Lowe, who has been at almost every court appearance for William Sandeson over the last two years.
She vows to continue to see the process through for her friend.
“I expect to be here when I’m 50 years old when he gets a parole hearing,” Lowe said. “I’m going to be following this at every aspect of my life.”
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