Brother of accused murderer testifies about being warned about package in basement

A still from surveillance video at William Sandeson's apartment building shown to the jury on Jan. 10, 2023.  (Nova Scotia Courts - image credit)
A still from surveillance video at William Sandeson's apartment building shown to the jury on Jan. 10, 2023. (Nova Scotia Courts - image credit)

Adam Sandeson says his older brother, William, warned him that there "might be something that stinks" in the basement of Adam's apartment, a Halifax court heard Tuesday during William Sandeson's first-degree murder trial.

William Sandeson is accused of killing Taylor Samson, 22, in Halifax in August 2015. Sandeson was 23 at the time.

This is the second time William Sandeson has faced a trial on this charge in Nova Scotia Supreme Court. A new trial was ordered in 2020 after a verdict from a trial in 2017 was overturned on appeal.

Adam said William gave him the warning on Aug. 17, 2015, two days after Samson disappeared. William is accused of killing Samson when the two men met to do a drug deal in William's apartment.

Taylor Samson was studying physics at Dalhousie University at the time. William Sandeson was enrolled at Dalhousie's medical school starting that fall.

Halifax Regional Police
Halifax Regional Police

Adam said after he got the warning from his brother, he went down into the basement of his Halifax apartment to investigate.

He told the court he found a large backpack with a logo for Dalhousie University's track team on it. Inside, Adam said he found vacuum sealed bags of what he thought was marijuana.

Adam said he asked his brother about the backpack the next day. He said William told him that it wasn't his marijuana, but that there was more.

Adam testified that he and a roommate returned to the basement and discovered a small appliance box that was taped shut. He said he assumed it also contained marijuana.

It was shortly after that, Adam said, that he learned his brother had been arrested and charged with kidnapping. That charge was later changed to murder.

Adam initially testified Tuesday that he only knew his brother to sell small quantities of marijuana to friends. But when shown text messages he exchanged with William in 2015, Adam acknowledged that his brother also grew and sold magic mushrooms.

Video shows Samson arriving at Sandeson's apartment

The Crown's next witness was David Webber, a retired forensic technician who worked for Halifax Regional Police for 35 years. In August 2015, Webber was assigned the task of extracting video from a security system William had in his apartment building.

Webber said the system had three cameras: one in the hallway outside his door, one showing the stairwell leading to the hallway and the other showing the exterior of the building.

The jury had already been shown still images extracted from that video. They show Samson arriving at William's apartment on the evening of Aug. 15, 2015. Samson can be seen carrying a large black duffel bag. William had earlier told police the meeting with Samson never took place.

Webber testified that the security system was recording continuously until about 11:30 p.m., when it abruptly shut down. He said one of the cameras came back on about 90 minutes later but the other two cameras didn't restart for another two and a half hours.