Crown wants Supreme Court to hear appeal in William Sandeson case

·2 min read

The Crown wants to take the murder case against William Sandeson to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Sandeson was convicted of killing Taylor Samson, a fellow student at Dalhousie University, in August 2015. The conviction, however, was overturned on appeal earlier this year.

The Nova Scotia Court of Appeal ruled the original trial judge should have declared a mistrial when it was learned that Bruce Webb, a private investigator working for the defence, went to police with new information.

Defence lawyers only learned what Webb had done in the middle of the trial, and asked Justice Josh Arnold to declare a mistrial. He refused.

The evidence Webb provided police was that two witnesses, Justin Blades and Pokiel McCabe, had changed their stories.

After initially telling police they saw nothing the night Samson was killed, they testified that they actually heard a gunshot and saw Samson, slumped over and bleeding, in the kitchen of Sandeson's apartment in south-end Halifax.

The Crown is seeking leave to appeal the decision to overturn Sandeson's conviction. There is no guarantee the Supreme Court of Canada will accede to the Crown's request for an appeal hearing, or if it does, when that hearing might occur.

Prep underway for 2nd trial

In the meantime, lawyers are preparing for the possibility of a second trial. They held a case management meeting Friday to try to sort through the many pretrial issues.

First up is a bail hearing for Sandeson, who is no longer in federal custody. He's been held at the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Centre in Dartmouth, N.S., since his conviction was overturned. That hearing is set for two days in January.

Sandeson is now being represented by high-profile Toronto defence lawyer James Lockyer and one of his partners, Alison Craig.

Craig agreed Friday via phone call from Toronto to schedule other pretrial hearings through the spring and summer of 2021. Those hearings will be used to argue issues like a defence application for a stay of proceedings which, if successful, would bring everything to a halt.

They have also scheduled hearings to argue over the admissibility of statements Sandeson gave police during the original homicide investigation and the search of his apartment in the hours after Samson disappeared. His body has never been found.

Pandemic issues

Justice James Chipman also raised the issue of COVID-19 with Craig during Friday's hearing. Ordinarily, someone arriving in Nova Scotia from outside the so-called Atlantic Bubble would have to self-isolate for 14 days.

Chipman said it may be possible to grant a special exemption to Craig and Lockyer that would allow them to attend hearings without having to self-isolate each time.

While there are still many hurdles to clear, Chipman and the lawyers are tentatively looking at a second trial in September 2021, more than six years after Samson was last seen alive.