Nova Scotia

Crown challenges Sandeson on his debts during second day of his testimony in murder trial

As he began his testimony on Monday, Sandeson admitted to the fatal shooting of Taylor Samson on Aug. 15, 2015, but claimed it was self-defence.

Crown says Sandeson ran up $78K debt prior to murder but he disputes assertion he needed money

A gun with tags on it lies in a cardboard box.
The gun police seized as evidence from William Sandeson following the disappearance of Taylor Samson is shown as evidence in court. (Nova Scotia Supreme Court)

William Sandeson's second day in the witness box focused on guns and money.

The gun is the one he used to kill Taylor Samson in August 2015. The money has been a matter of dispute between Sandeson and Crown prosecutors as he testifies at his first-degree murder trial. 

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. Sandeson, who was 23 at the time, is accused of killing Samson, who was 22, at a Halifax apartment. 

As he began his testimony on Monday, Sandeson admitted to the shooting on Aug. 15, 2015, but claimed it was self-defence. Sandeson also testified that he disposed of Samson's body in the Bay of Fundy.

During cross-examination on Tuesday, Sandeson said it was never his intention to fire the gun that evening.

"It was my plan to display that gun," he told the court.

He said he wasn't a fighter, but he admitted the gun levelled the playing field.

Taylor Samson was 22 years old when he was reported missing on Aug. 16, 2015. (Halifax Regional Police)

Sandeson says he got the gun at the urging of people in Montreal who were supplying him with drugs. He said they were concerned about him driving back and forth to Halifax with large quantities of drugs and cash.

But Sandeson said he couldn't remember if he took the gun with him when he and his girlfriend went to Montreal in July 2015 when he bought drugs. He said his girlfriend was not involved in the deal.

The Crown suggested that Sandeson pinned a target from a shooting range to a door in his kitchen as a way to intimidate people coming to his apartment. Sandeson countered by saying he didn't think most people would know what the target was.

Sandeson also said there was a second bullet in the gun when police seized the weapon because he was contemplating killing himself.

The Crown has suggested Sandeson killed Samson in order to steal the nine kilograms of marijuana that was the basis of their drug deal. The Crown suggested he could sell that quantity of drugs for $90,000, which would have wiped out the $78,000 debt he had run up on the line of credit that was meant to help pay for his university education.

At the time of the killing, Sandeson was about to start his first year at Dalhousie University's medical school. Samson was a physics student at Dalhousie. 

Sandeson disputed the Crown's assertion that he needed money. He said he was owed $32,000 from other drug dealers he had loaned money to. The Crown challenged Sandeson's assertion about how much he was owed, accusing him of inflating the number to refute the idea he needed money.

The Crown showed Sandeson text messages he exchanged with his father in August 2015 in which he said his student debt would be paid off by September. Crown prosecutor Carla Ball said that would only have been possible if he stole Samson's drugs and resold them.

Sandeson said he didn't really intend to pay off his debt, he was just going to transfer the money to an account his parents couldn't monitor.

Sandeson admitted that when he said he was getting out of the drug business, he meant he would stop selling marijuana. He said he would continue to grow and sell magic mushrooms. He said once his roommate moved out of their apartment on Henry Street in south end Halifax, he planned to turn the entire apartment unit into a mushroom grow-op while he lived elsewhere with his girlfriend.

Sandeson's testimony is expected to continue on Wednesday.


Blair Rhodes


Blair Rhodes has been a journalist for more than 40 years, the last 31 with CBC. His primary focus is on stories of crime and public safety. He can be reached at

Add some “good” to your morning and evening.

A variety of newsletters you'll love, delivered straight to you.

Sign up now