Crown introduces marijuana as evidence in first-degree murder trial

This still from surveillance video was shown to the jury in the William Sandeson trial on Jan. 10.  (Nova Scotia Courts - image credit)
This still from surveillance video was shown to the jury in the William Sandeson trial on Jan. 10. (Nova Scotia Courts - image credit)

The jury in the first-degree murder trial of William Sandeson has been shown the marijuana that the Crown maintains was the root cause for the killing of Taylor Samson.

Sandeson is accused of killing 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.

A police forensic expert testified Wednesday at Sandeson's trial.

On Aug. 21, 2015, Det. Const. Illya Nielsen was called to an apartment in south-end Halifax to execute a search warrant under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA).

Nielsen told court he found, photographed and seized three containers from the basement of an apartment on Chestnut Street where Sandeson's younger brother Adam was living.

Halifax Regional Police
Halifax Regional Police

Adam Sandeson has testified that he found the containers — a backpack, a grocery bag and a box for a small appliance — after his brother told him there might be something in his basement that stinks. Adam Sandeson said he assumed the containers contained marijuana.

Nielsen said he seized the drugs and examined the containers. He said they contained vacuum-sealed packages of marijuana. He said he found fingerprints on some of the packages, but he was not able to determine who the prints belonged to.

Once Nielsen introduced the drugs into evidence, they were placed on a table in the courtroom in front of the jury box.

The Crown alleges Sandeson killed Samson in order to steal the marijuana. The two men were supposed to meet to conduct a drug deal on the night Samson disappeared.

Samson was studying physics at Dalhousie University at the time. Sandeson was enrolled at Dalhousie Medical School starting that fall.

Nielsen also went to the Sandeson family farm in Lower Truro, N.S., to photograph and seize more evidence.

A large police contingent along with ground search and rescue volunteers were searching the farm. Nielsen said he was directed to a structure on the farm which he described as looking like the bed of a truck. Inside, he found a backpack and three large garbage bags.

Nielsen said some of the bags contained household garbage. He said the strong smell of rotten meat could be detected in one bag. In another, he found dirty towels which smelled strongly of cleaning solutions.