Witnesses tell murder trial they saw a dead man in William Sandeson's apartment
WARNING: This story contains graphic details
The fourth week of the first-degree murder trial of William Sandeson started with some dramatic testimony from a witness who said he saw a man with a bullet hole in his head slumped over in Sandeson's apartment on the evening of Aug. 15, 2015.
Sandeson is accused of killing Taylor Samson, 22, in a drug deal at Sandeson's apartment in south-end Halifax on the evening of Aug. 15, 2015. Sandeson was 23 at the time.
Justin Blades testified in Nova Scotia Supreme Court on Monday that he was at a friend's apartment, just across the hall from Sandeson's, when they heard a gunshot. Blades said he and his friend, Pookiel McCabe, ran to the door of McCabe's apartment and listened. He said he could hear a shuffling sound, then a knock.
Blades said Sandeson was in the hall, and that he turned around and headed back to his apartment.
Blades said he and McCabe followed. He told court that from the doorway, he could see a "big fella" slumped over in a chair at the kitchen table in Sandeson's apartment.
Blades demonstrated the man's posture from the witness box, doubling over until his head was between his knees. Blades said the man was "bleeding out" and the floor was covered in blood and money. Blades said almost the entire kitchen floor was covered in blood.
Blades was visibly upset while testifying and punctuated many of his comments with profanity.
He said he and McCabe panicked. The pair opted to leave the apartment building and attend a party as previously planned.
Blades said they looked into Sandeson's apartment as they were leaving and saw that the body was gone. There were streak marks leading down the hallway in the direction of the bathroom.
Blades said Sandeson asked him to bring his car around and he refused.
Blades said he and McCabe were afraid to tell anyone about what they saw that night because they believed Sandeson was affiliated with the Hells Angels.
"I know not to f–k around with these people," Blades testified.
He explained that fear was why, when police approached him in 2015, he lied and said he saw nothing that night. He wouldn't change his story until he was approached again in 2017.
"I held that shit in for a long time, and it f--ked me up," Blades said.
Blades stuck to his assertion about a gang affiliation, even under questioning by Sandeson's lawyer, Alison Craig, who suggested Sandeson had just talked about going to Montreal to buy drugs.
Blades said he knew Sandeson had a gun. He said Sandeson "couldn't fight his way out of a paper bag," and he agreed with Craig's characterization that Sandeson was a wimp.
Witness says Sandeson was 'freaking out'
Pookiel McCabe followed Blades on the witness stand. He was more tentative about what he remembered from that night and had to be reminded from prior statements he had given police and testified to.
On the stand Monday, McCabe said he couldn't remember Sandeson's demeanour that night. But when shown a previous statement, he agreed that he described Sandeson as "freaking out."
McCabe disputed the suggestion from Sandeson's lawyer that he had accompanied Sandeson on drug deals.
The jury has been told that Sandeson, McCabe and the person Sandeson is accused of killing, Taylor Samson, all dealt drugs.
This is the second time Sandeson has faced a trial on this same charge. A new trial was ordered in 2020 after a verdict from a trial in 2017 was overturned on appeal.
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