News / Halifax

William Sandeson chooses not to testify in his first-degree murder trial

All of the evidence in the case is now before the jury, which will be sent off next week to determine whether Sandeson is guilty of murdering Taylor Samson.

A photo of William Sandeson taken by police after his arrest for murder on Aug. 19, 2015.

Nova Scotia Supreme Court

A photo of William Sandeson taken by police after his arrest for murder on Aug. 19, 2015.

All of the evidence in his first-degree murder trial is now before the jury, and William Sandeson, “relying upon his right to silence,” did not take the witness stand.

Sandeson, 24, is accused of killing Taylor Samson, 22, on Aug. 15 2015. Samson’s body has not been found.

Defence lawyer Eugene Tan said outside court that whether Sandeson would take the stand was “an open question” till Tuesday, but as the defence closed its case, the accused elected not to give testimony.

“He’s relying upon his right to silence, and I think when you see how we put together our argument, I think you’ll see why we chose to attack the evidence in the way we did,” Tan said.

The defence has sought throughout the trial to establish that the police investigation into Samson’s disappearance was inadequate.

“There are a lot of leads that were presented, some of which we feel were substantive and should’ve been pursued,” Tan said.

The defence closed its case Tuesday after calling four witnesses, including Sandeson’s ex-girlfriend, Sonja Gashus.

On Aug. 15, 2015, Gashus said Sandeson asked her not to be home at his apartment later that night because he was doing one last drug deal to get out of the business – as she’d been urging him to do. He told her she could return at about 12:30 a.m.

When Gashus got back to the apartment, it smelled like bleach, she said. Sandeson told her three people had been there, and one was “sucker punched” by another and walked out. They left behind a box or marijuana and a bloody apartment for Sandeson to clean, he told her.

Gashus later asked Sandeson if Samson was the man who was punched in Sandeson’s apartment. He said no.

The Crown led reply evidence after the defence closed its case, calling Det. Const. Roger Sayer, who outlined the evolution of the investigation.

“We of course think that there was an adequate police investigation done in this case,” Crown attorney said Susan MacKay said outside court.

On Monday, the defence and Crown will make their closing arguments. On Tuesday, Justice Josh Arnold will give his final instructions to the jurors, and they’ll be sequestered to determine their verdict.

Arnold dismissed one of the 14 jurors in the case on Tuesday, and told the remaining 13 not to speculate as to why. One more will be dismissed before deliberations begin.

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