The lawyer of a North Okanagan man accused of threatening a sex-trade worker with a shotgun is trying to have some evidence excluded from trial as his case returned to court on Thursday.
Curtis Sagmoen has pleaded not guilty to five charges — including firearms offences, uttering threats and possession of methamphetamine — in relation to the alleged August 2017 incident with the sex-trade worker and its aftermath.
As the case resumed to court in Vernon after an almost three-month break, defence lawyer Lisa Helps argued there are problems with the information to obtain that police used to get a search warrant in this case.
Helps argued that the problems are serious enough that if those sections weren’t included in the application for the warrant, the search warrant would never have been granted in the first place.
If defence does persuade the court that the warrant should be thrown out, it would likely preclude any evidence obtained under that warrant from being used at trial.
In particular, Helps argued that the search warrant application relies on gossip, that police didn’t do enough to determine if a person witnessed was actually Sagmoen and that inflammatory language was used accusing Sagmoen of lying about his location.
In one memorable instance, Helps questioned police attempts, in seeking the warrant, to suggest Sagmoen could be linked to text messages received by the complainant on the day of the alleged threats.
Helps told the court that the link police were trying to make was based on a perceived misuse of the word “there” or “their” in one of Sagmoen’s text messages and in a text message received by the complainant.
A commonality that the defence argued doesn’t prove Sagmoen was texting the complainant, as “there” and “their” are frequently misused homonyms.
Looking at the texts, in one case, the justice acknowledged she didn’t know which “there” should be used.
Defence argued the use of there in the various texts didn’t amount to a “Mark of Zorro” that would identify anyone, including her client as being behind the texts to the sex-trade worker.
“This is a use of the word “there” that is just idiomatic. I doesn’t carry any force. It certainly doesn’t carry any force in terms of an identifying detail,” Helps said.
Thursday afternoon, according to Vernon Matters, Crown defended the search warrant, arguing police had reasonable grounds to feel Sagmoen was a suspect.
It’s what police found during a search of Sagmoen’s parents’ rural property that has drawn so much attention to the case.
In the fall of 2017, police confirmed they’d found the remains of missing 18-year-old Traci Genereaux.
Sagmoen has not been charged in connection with her death, nor has be been named as a suspect.