William Sandeson's ex-girlfriend testifies in first-degree murder trial

This still from surveillance video shows William Sandeson in the hallway outside of his apartment. (Nova Scotia Supreme Court - image credit)
This still from surveillance video shows William Sandeson in the hallway outside of his apartment. (Nova Scotia Supreme Court - image credit)

William Sandeson's former girlfriend testified Monday at his first-degree murder trial about the night Taylor Samson disappeared.

Sandeson is accused of killing Samson, 22, in a drug deal at Sandeson's apartment in south-end Halifax on the evening of Aug. 15, 2015. Sandeson was 23 at the time.

This is the second time 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.

Sonja Gashus testified as Sandeson's trial entered its third week. She and Sandeson dated for about a year in 2015.

Gashus told court she knew Sandeson dealt drugs. She testified he knew she didn't like it, and had been urging him to quit.

Halifax Regional Police
Halifax Regional Police

He told her the deal he was planning for that August evening would be his last. He also told her she would have to be away from the apartment that evening.

Gashus left for a friend's place at about 9:45 p.m. Just after midnight, she received a text from Sandeson saying she could return. She said when she entered the apartment, Sandeson appeared "rattled."

Under cross-examination by Sandeson's lawyer, Alison Craig, Gashus agreed that he was panicked, shaken up and his heart was racing.

She said the apartment smelled strongly of bleach, and Sandeson told her somebody got hurt and there was a lot of blood.

Video shows girlfriend leaving, Samson in hallway

Sandeson had a security camera mounted in the hallway outside his apartment.

Video from that camera was played for the jury. It showed Gashus and Sandeson returning from supper at a downtown pub just before 8 p.m.

Gashus is seen leaving for her friend's place about an hour later.

Some 45 minutes after that, Sandeson and Samson can be seen on the video walking up the hallway. Samson is carrying a large black duffel bag. It is the last time he is seen alive.

Gashus said she saw a Facebook post about Samson being a missing person, and she asked Sandeson if Samson was the person injured in his apartment on Saturday night. She said he told her no.

She also said Sandeson had bought a handgun that summer and they had both used it for target practice at a range. She testified that Sandeson told her she wasn't to tell anyone about the gun.

She was one of only three people he told, the others being his roommate and his neighbour.

Gashus said she didn't know where he kept the gun. Police seized the gun and it is now an exhibit in this trial.