Nova Scotia

Appeal hearing for convicted killer William Sandeson set for January

Former Dalhousie University medical student William Sandeson must wait until next year to make his case for a new trial for killing fellow Dalhousie student Taylor Samson.

Sandeson is asking for a new trial on the lesser charge of 2nd-degree murder

This photo of William Sandeson was taken by police following his arrest on Aug. 19, 2015. (Court exhibit)

Former Dalhousie University medical student William Sandeson must wait until next year to make his case for a new trial for killing fellow Dalhousie student Taylor Samson.

Samson, 22, was murdered in August 2015. His body has never been found.

Sandeson, 26, was found guilty of first-degree murder following a jury trial two years ago. During the trial, the court heard that both Sandeson and Samson were involved in the drug trade.

The prosecution alleged Sandeson was in money trouble and set up a drug deal with Samson on Aug. 15, 2015. When Samson arrived at Sandeson's Halifax apartment, the Crown said Sandeson shot him to death and took his nine kilograms of marijuana.

Two weeks after the conviction, Sandeson filed notice that he wanted to appeal his conviction. In a teleconference with a justice of the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal Wednesday morning, lawyers for the Crown and Sandeson agreed on a two-day appeal hearing next January.

The lengthy time between trial and appeal is because the case is complicated. There were numerous issues that had to be decided through voir dires, both before and during the trial. Justice Josh Arnold of the Nova Scotia Supreme Court did not publish full decisions from each of those hearings until months later. Transcripts of each of those hearings had to be prepared, along with a transcript of the trial itself, before lawyers could prepare for an eventual appeal.

Why Sandeson is appealing

In his handwritten notice filed after his conviction, Sandeson argued the judge should not have allowed evidence police extracted from his phone to be presented to the jury.

He also said his solicitor-client privileges were breached when a private detective retained by his defence team tipped police off to the fact two witnesses had changed their story about the night Samson was killed.

Sandeson is asking for a new trial on the lesser charge of second-degree murder.

Since last month, he has been represented by high-profile Toronto defence lawyer Ian R. Smith.

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