Nova Scotia·In Depth

The 6 stories William Sandeson told after Taylor Samson disappeared

Over the course of several days, William Sandeson told different stories about what happened the night fellow Dalhousie University student Taylor Samson was killed.

As a jury deliberates a verdict in his murder trial, here's a look at the differing accounts Sandeson gave

William Sandeson pleaded not guilty to the charge of first-degree murder. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)

The Nova Scotia Supreme Court jury in the first-degree murder trial of William Sandeson resumes deliberations this morning as it tries to reach a verdict in the case.

The prosecution alleges Sandeson was having money problems and killed Samson, a fellow Dalhousie University student, in Sandeson's Halifax apartment and stole his nine kilograms of marijuana.

Sandeson pleaded not guilty. The defence said there was a "violent incident" that evening, but that other people were there.

Over the course of several days in August 2015, Sandeson told six different stories about what happened that night, according to evidence at trial.

Here they are:

Story 1

It was Saturday, Aug. 15, 2015.

Sandeson and his girlfriend, Sonja Gashus, had just returned to his apartment from supper downtown. He told her he wanted her to leave for a while.

Gashus later testified in court that she understood he wanted her out of the apartment so he could do a drug deal. She'd pressured Sandeson to quit dealing, she testified, and he'd assured her this was to be his last time.

Gashus said they kept in touch through the evening by text message. She asked when it was OK to come home and got the all-clear around midnight.

This is a diagram of William Sandeson's Halifax apartment. (Court exhibit)

When she arrived back at the apartment, she told the court, there was a strong smell of cleaning solution and a puddle of bleach on the kitchen floor.

Gashus said Sandeson told her that three men had come to the apartment to bid on taking over his drug dealing business. He told her one of the men "went crazy," there was a fight and one of them got "sucker punched." He said there was a lot of blood, and they left him to clean up the mess.

The next day, Gashus testified, she found a missing person's post for Samson on Facebook. She asked Sandeson if Samson was one of the three people who was at the apartment the previous night. She said he told her no.

Story 2

That Saturday night, Sandeson also texted Jordan MacEwan, who testified he knew both Sandeson and Samson through drug dealing.

In his texts to MacEwan, Sandeson said Samson had ripped him off in a drug deal and that he would need to replace his supply.

Story 3

That afternoon, Sunday, Aug. 16, Sandeson went to his job at a special needs home in Lower Sackville, N.S.

He told coworkers there he was feeling a little ill because he'd inhaled bleach fumes. He explained that a friend had been attacked, had bled a lot, and he helped the friend clean up.

Story 4

By Monday, the search for Samson was ramping up. Police had discovered Sandeson through a phone number on Samson's cellphone. He agreed to come into the police station to give a statement.

In that statement, which he gave Tuesday afternoon, Sandeson said he was supposed to meet Samson the previous Saturday night to do a drug deal. But Sandeson said Samson never showed up.

Sandeson told police the deal was negotiated using a texting app he had since deleted from his phone. Police persuaded Sandeson to restore the app and allow them to take pictures of old texts.

Story 5

This photo of Sandeson was taken by police following his arrest. (Court exhibit)

Police were suspicious enough of Sandeson's statement that they arrested him that evening and brought him in for questioning. The interrogation would last nearly 24 hours, with only a few hours off for sleep.

In the course of the interrogation, Sandeson admitted that Samson did come to his apartment that night. In a videotaped interview played for the jury at trial, Sandeson said he and Samson were in the process of concluding the deal when three men burst into his apartment through the front door. He said they knocked him to the floor. He said by the time he got up, the three intruders, Samson and the nine kilograms of marijuana Samson brought were all gone.

Story 6

As Sandeson was being interrogated, his apartment was being searched and his old text messages were being examined. Police were finding contradictions between what Sandeson had told them and what the evidence revealed.

That evidence included video from Sandeson's own security system. It showed Samson arriving at the apartment with a duffel bag full of dope. But it didn't show him leaving and it didn't show any intruders arriving at the front door.

Sandeson is seen on a video during his interrogation by police. (CBC)

Confronted by those contradictions, Sandeson provided his sixth version of events.

He said there were only two intruders, that they had gained access to the apartment through the window in his roommate's bedroom and that they were wearing morph suits that obscured their faces.

At one point, Sandeson said the men told him to go into the bedroom and turn off his home security system.

"There was a gunshot," Sandeson told the police officer during his interrogation. "I didn't see what happened. There was a lot of blood."

When he looked in the kitchen, Sandeson said he saw the two men stuffing Samson's body into the large duffel bag. Sandeson said the men left with the duffel bag carrying the body and the drugs.

He told the police officer he didn't see what way they went and he didn't follow. Instead, he started cleaning up the mess.

Shortly after he recounts the story of the two intruders, Sandeson is charged with first-degree murder.

What the prosecution alleges

The prosecution's theory in the case is that there were no intruders in Sandeson's apartment that night, and that the only people there were Samson and Sandeson.

The Crown alleges Sandeson lured Samson to the apartment with the prospect of a very large marijuana deal, but that he never had the money to pay for the drugs. Rather than pay him, the Crown says, Sandeson shot Samson in the head.

While Samson's body has never been found, the prosecution suspects Sandeson may have disposed of it on the family farm near Truro.

What the defence said

In his closing arguments, defence lawyer Eugene Tan referred the jury to the last story Sandeson gave police as the defence theory of what happened that night.