Police found bullet lodged in window of Sandeson's apartment, murder trial hears

William Sandeson is escorted into court in Halifax on February 11, 2016 in this file photo.  (Darren Calabrese/The Canadian Press - image credit)
William Sandeson is escorted into court in Halifax on February 11, 2016 in this file photo. (Darren Calabrese/The Canadian Press - image credit)

One of the first police officers to do an extensive search of William Sandeson's Halifax apartment has testified about finding cash with apparent blood stains, and a bullet lodged in a window frame.

Sgt. Sandra Johnston spoke Monday as Sandeson's first-degree murder trial entered its second week.

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

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

Johnston is a forensic identification officer with Halifax Regional Police who was assigned to search Sandeson's apartment on Aug. 19, 2015 — four days after Samson was last seen alive.

Johnston testified that she entered the apartment after police obtained a search warrant. There had been cursory searches by police the day before, when Samson was considered a missing person. That previous search was limited to determining whether Samson was in the apartment. He was not.

Halifax Regional Police
Halifax Regional Police

The Crown called a series of police officers Monday who described events during that week in August seven years ago.

Const. Chris Starrett testified that he guarded Sandeson's apartment overnight from Aug. 18 to 19 while police waited to obtain a search warrant.

Starrett said he and another officer sat in the apartment kitchen because it was impossible to keep tabs on all entrances from outside.

The jury also heard from two police officers who arrested Sandeson as he emerged from a home in Dartmouth on the evening of Aug. 18.

One of those officers, RCMP Const. Marc MacMullin, also described a drug search in which he participated on Aug. 19 at Sandeson's apartment. MacMullin said he found two bongs, a small quantity of marijuana, magic mushrooms and some drug paraphernalia.

Det. Const. Jennifer Lake testified to her part in the search for Samson on Aug. 17. She testified that she checked trains, buses, planes, banks and hospitals, and the searches were negative.

Pictures from search

But it was Johnston's testimony that consumed most of the trial's fifth day as she testified about the pictures she took during her search.

She said a black backpack was located in a bedroom and that police found $2,270 in cash inside the backpack.

She said the money was wet and the moisture appeared to be blood.

Johnston said she found another stack of cash concealed in the bottom of a garbage can in the bathroom. The money, under a garbage bag, totalled $5,000 in $20 bills.

Johnston said the search revealed possible blood stains in several areas of the apartment. She took swabs of the suspected blood for further testing.

The forensic search also discovered a bullet lodged in the frame of the kitchen window. Johnston said other police officers came in to try to calculate the bullet's trajectory.