Nova Scotia

Murder trial told of evidence found in ice-cream truck at Sandeson farm

Police officers searching William Sandeson's family farm found an ice-cream truck that contained a sports bag with a rotten smell and a shower curtain, a Halifax jury heard Tuesday. Sandeson is accused of murdering fellow Dal student Taylor Samson.

William Sandeson charged with 1st-degree murder in August 2015 death of Taylor Samson

William Sandeson is charged with first-degree murder. (Darren Calabrese/The Canadian Press)

Police officers searching William Sandeson's family farm found a derelict ice-cream truck that contained a sports bag with a rotten smell and garbage bags containing a shower curtain, blue tarp and towels, a Halifax jury heard Tuesday.

Sandeson is on trial for first-degree murder in the death of a fellow Dalhousie University student, Taylor Samson. He disappeared on Aug. 15, 2015, and his body has not been found.

The prosecution has alleged Samson was killed at Sandeson's Halifax apartment during a drug deal involving 20 pounds of marijuana Samson was going to sell.

Search of farm

Det. Const. Ilya Nielsen, with the police forensic identification unit, testified Tuesday in Nova Scotia Supreme Court that he was asked on Aug. 27, 2015, to photograph items found during the search of a farm in the Truro area as police investigated Samson's disappearance.

A police photo of the ice-cream truck found on the Sandeson family farm near Truro. (Blair Rhodes/CBC)

Garbage bags and an Adidas sports bag were found inside an ice-cream truck on the farm. There was staining visible on the sports bag, Nielsen testified, and there was a strong rotting, decomposing smell coming from it.

A police photo of a black duffel bag police recovered from the farm. (Blair Rhodes/CBC)

Nielsen said police found and seized another bag that had wet towels, which were hung to dry. He took pictures of a garbage bag that had a blue tarp in it, and another garbage bag that had two yellow micro-fibre cloths and a grey one.

Nielsen said there was a shower curtain in the garbage bag and a roll of paper towel that was soaked. He said the cloths smelled strongly of cleaner, while the other things in the bag just seemed wet with water. A bottle of Lysol spray and a letter addressed to William Sandeson were also seized at the family farm.

Armloads of evidence

Nielsen brought armloads of evidence with him into court Tuesday, along with photos he took of where police seized containers of marijuana from an apartment building where Sandeson's younger brother, Adam, lived.

Nielsen testified he was sent to an apartment, on Chestnut Street, to execute a drug warrant as part of the murder investigation. Sandeson's younger brother, Adam, lived there.

The small appliance box that police found full of marijuana. (Blair Rhodes/CBC)

Court has heard that Adam Sandeson's roommates — through a lawyer — alerted police to a stash of drugs in the basement of their building.

Duffel bag full of marijuana police seized from Chestnut Street. (Blair Rhodes/CBC)

Nielsen photographed and seized that stash and displayed it in the courtroom Tuesday. He also photographed a "morph suit" found hanging in a closet. Morph suits include a full head covering.

Morph suits and marijuana

William Sandeson had told police in a videotaped interview that two intruders in morph suits shot Samson and took his body and the drugs.

Nielsen said no blood or fingerprints were found on the morph suit.

Black backpack police recovered from Chestnut Street. It was full of marijuana. (Blair Rhodes/CBC)

The marijuana was in vacuum sealed bags and had been stored in a small appliance box, a knapsack and a grocery bag. The box, the bag and the knapsack are now exhibits in the murder trial, along with 20 pounds of marijuana.

Nielsen also confirmed to the defence that he was asked to test Sandeson's car because it was believed it might have been used to transport a body. Nielsen said all stains found in the trunk were sent for testing.

A police photo of the trunk of Sandeson's small black car. Police believe it may have been used to transport a body. (Blair Rhodes/CBC)

Neilsen told the defence Sandeson's fingerprints were not found on an appliance box that contained the marijuana at the apartment. He also testified he didn't find anything on a pair of gloves he was asked to test that had been seized from the farm.

Closed-door hearing

Much of Tuesday morning was taken up with a closed-door hearing involving lawyers and the judge. Not only was the jury excluded, but so were all members of the public, including media. The reasons why the court went in camera cannot be reported until the end of the trial.

The first person to testify Tuesday following the in camera hearing was Dylan Zinck, Sandeson's roommate at the time of Samson's disappearance.

Zinck said he mostly stayed with his girlfriend and didn't spend much time at the apartment, coming home two to three times per week to look after his cat.

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

He told court he got a message from Sandeson on Friday, Aug.14, 2015 — the day before Samson's disappearance — telling him not to come home after 8 p.m. the next day.

He said he had received similar requests from Sandeson before but never for an entire night. He didn't ask why.

Zinck testified that when he returned to the apartment it was cleaner than usual and Sandeson told him they needed a new shower curtain. Zinck said he wasn't surprised because the old shower curtain had mould on it.

The CBC's Blair Rhodes live blogged from court. 

With files from Blair Rhodes