Nova Scotia

Sandeson turned to murder to solve money woes, Crown says in final arguments

William Sandeson is accused of killing fellow Dalhousie University student Taylor Samson. He has been on trial in Nova Scotia Supreme Court for first-degree murder.

Halifax jury in the William Sandeson murder trial expected to begin deliberations on Thursday

William Sandeson is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Taylor Samson. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)

William Sandeson was under financial pressure and lured Taylor Samson to his apartment to kill him and steal his nine kilograms of marijuana, a prosecutor said Tuesday as she urged a Halifax jury to find Sandeson guilty of first-degree murder.

Samson's body has never been found. But in her closing arguments in Nova Scotia Supreme Court, Crown lawyer Kim McOnie said there doesn't need to be a body to prove murder. She told the jury the evidence shows Sandeson not only killed Samson but that it was planned and deliberate.

After McOnie finished her closing arguments, quiet sobbing could be heard in the Halifax courtroom.

Samson was reported missing in August 2015, and Sandeson was charged with murder days later. Both men were students at Dalhousie University.

Sandeson, 24, has been on trial since mid-April. A judge will give his final instructions to the jury Thursday morning, and deliberations will likely begin that afternoon.

The Crown believes this 9-mm Smith and Wesson handgun found in William Sandeson's Halifax apartment was the murder weapon. (CBC)

On Monday, Sandeson's defence lawyer urged the jury to acquit his client, arguing he is not the criminal mastermind being depicted by the prosecution.

On Tuesday, McOnie told the jury that the prosecution doesn't believe Sandeson is a criminal mastermind, but that doesn't mean he didn't plan to kill Samson.

"A plan to murder someone doesn't have to be a good plan," she said.

She said Sandeson wanted to meet Samson at Sandeson's Halifax apartment because he wanted to kill him and couldn't do it anywhere else.

A man is seen walking down a hallway with a black duffel bag.
An image from security video at William Sandeson's apartment shows Taylor Samson arriving. (Nova Scotia Courts)

It's not the Crown's job to prove a motive for the killing, said McOnie, but it believes Sandeson needed money and that a big drug deal could solve his financial problems.

McOnie reminded the jury that Sandeson, who was about to begin medical school at Dalhousie University, had used $72,000 on a line of credit. In text messages his parents expressed concerns about his debt. Sandeson even reassured his father that the line of credit would be paid off by September. 

Six-and-a-half hours after Samson was seen on video surveillance entering Sandeson's apartment, Sandeson texted someone and told them he'd paid off his student loan. 

The Crown also reviewed testimony from a witness who said he saw a man bleeding in Sandeson's kitchen along with drugs and money. Another witness also testified he heard a gunshot in the building. They also heard a dragging sound.

DNA evidence

Samson's DNA was also found in the trunk of Sandeson's car and in a black duffel bag that was seized from the Sandeson family farm in the Truro area. 

McOnie said the Crown believes some or all of Samson's remains were carried out of the apartment in that black duffel bag.

The CBC's Blair Rhodes live blogged from court.

With files from the CBC's Blair Rhodes