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No second chance for William Sandeson, Crown argues

Arguments wrap up in appeal of murder conviction

3 min read
caption Defence lawyer Ian R. Smith leaves the courtroom Tuesday.
Kristina Pappas

There should be no new trial for convicted killer William Sandeson, a Crown lawyer told Nova Scotia’s top court on Tuesday.

Sandeson is appealing his conviction of first-degree murder of Taylor Samson. He is serving a life sentence with no eligibility for parole for 25 years.

Submissions continued for a second day Tuesday in the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal. Lawyer Ian R. Smith argued for a new trial for Sandeson, while Crown attorney Jennifer MacLellan argued it wasn’t necessary.

During the jury trial in 2017, the defence filed for a mistrial when they were told their private investigator tipped off police. The trial judge, Nova Scotia Supreme Court Justice Josh Arnold, denied the request.

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Smith said the information regarding private investigator Bruce Webb changed the course of the defence’s strategy.

It was only after Webb’s involvement that Justin Blades and Pookiel McCabe, two of Sandeson’s neighbours, told police they saw Samson dead on Sandeson’s kitchen table with lots of blood.

As part of the defence’s team, Webb was privy to their strategy including who they planned to talk to. Smith said Webb’s actions were wrong. At the very least, Webb or the police should have notified the defence of what happened instead of allowing it to come up mid-trial, Smith said.

If there’s a new trial, Smith said the testimonies of Blades and McCabe should be excluded.

MacLellan argued that if the defence had enough time to file for mistrial when they found out about Webb, then they would have had enough time to file for a stay and the defence chose not to.

A stay stops the current legal process for up to a year and is granted in cases where there has been an abuse of process.

“If they can muster a mistrial application on the exact same set of facts, why can’t they muster a stay or exclusion of evidence application,” MacLellan said in court on Tuesday.

“They hadn’t lost an opportunity to make a stay or exclusion of evidence application. They made a decision not to do so.”

MacLellan defended the trial judge’s decision to not grant a mistrial.

She also argued there is no reason to change Sandeson’s conviction of first-degree murder. She said there is enough evidence to show it was premeditated.

She said Sandeson lured Samson to the apartment for a drug deal that was never going to happen. She noted Samson was in the apartment for three minutes before he was shot, and said that isn’t enough time for a robbery or drug deal to go wrong.

She noted that Samson was shot in close range in the back of the head while sitting at a table.

MacLellan also rejected Smith’s argument that Sandeson was not told he was a murder suspect soon enough.

Sandeson was arrested initially for kidnapping, trafficking and obstruction of justice and was being interrogated on that basis. Smith said the police never informed Sandeson when they started to view him as a murder suspect, or when his jeopardy changed.

Smith said, to a common citizen who doesn’t know the legal system, the police were wrong not to tell him they were viewing him differently. This is considered to be a problem because Sandeson didn’t know in what context his statements to police would be used.

MacLellan argued the trial judge ruled correctly in not allowing as evidence anything Sandeson said to police when they viewed him as a murder suspect but didn’t tell him.

Justice David Farrar, Justice Jamie Saunders and Justice J. Edward Scanlan have reserved their decision.

MacLellan said this typically takes around six months.

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About the author

Kristina Pappas

Kristina Pappas is a journalism student. She's from western Canada and is smitten with the east coast's charm. You can find her at a beach, exploring...

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