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Crown alleges former Halifax medical student dismembered body of fellow student


There was drama in a Halifax courtroom Wednesday as a Crown prosecutor tried to poke holes in the alibi of a former medical student who is claiming self-defence in the shooting death of another student during a drug deal.

At one point, Crown prosecutor Carla Ball asked William Sandeson if the large quantity of bleach he had purchased before the killing was in anticipation of cleaning his apartment after dismembering the victim's body, which has yet to be found.

Sandeson confirmed the bleach was used to clean the apartment after the shooting, but he denied dismembering the body.

The 30-year-old accused has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the Aug. 15, 2015, death of Dalhousie University physics student Taylor Samson, who had intended to sell nine kilograms of marijuana to Sandeson that night. The price: $40,000.

Sandeson has told the Nova Scotia Supreme Court jury he brought a loaded gun to the drug deal to intimidate Samson, not to kill him. Sandeson, a former Dalhousie track athlete, said he feared for his life and fired the gun when Samson lunged at him as a dispute arose over payment.

Sandeson testified that he didn't alert police because he was terrified, confused and afraid of being charged with some sort of crime.

The Crown alleges Sandeson was deep in debt as he was about to start medical school, and that he planned to kill Samson and steal the marijuana. The accused has denied this, saying his drug dealing and three part-time jobs left him in good financial shape -- though he was carrying a $78,000 line of credit.

During Sandeson's testimony Wednesday, the Crown prosecutor pressed him to explain why he didn't call out for help or simply leave his apartment when he pulled the gun on the unarmed man.

"You had a loaded handgun," Ball said. "What were you afraid of?"

Sandeson said he tried to get the attention of his friends in a neighbouring apartment as he yelled at Samson and told him to leave. The friends did not respond, Sandeson said.

"He was twice my size," Sandeson said. At the time, Sandeson was five foot nine and he weighed 150 pounds, the jury has heard. Samson was over six feet tall and 220 pounds.

Sandeson also said he had no intention of firing the gun. He said he was worried that Samson would leave the apartment with the marijuana he had brought and the $10,000 in cash Sandeson had placed on the kitchen table as payment for a portion of what was being offered.

"I'm yelling at him to get the f....k out of the apartment," Sandeson told the court, confirming that he was pointing the gun at Samson, who sat in a kitchen chair. At that point, Samson started laughing, and Sandeson recalled him saying: "You're done."

That's when Samson lunged at him, he told the court.

"I pulled the trigger," Sandeson said. "He stopped coming towards me."

Samson slumped backwards into the chair, and he was bleeding from either the head or neck, Sandeson said.

"You made no effort to bring in help for Mr. Samson," Ball told Sandeson.

Sandeson replied: "No, because I determined there was no way to save him." He said he attempted to check the victim's pulse and touched his neck, but he stopped when he noticed blood streaming through Samson's hair and down his neck.

"You didn't do anything about it," Ball told Sandeson. "You know that you lured him into that apartment and shot him point blank."

Again, Sandeson disagreed. "I didn't lure him into the apartment," he said in a quiet monotone that has rarely changed pitch during the trial, now in its fifth week.

Ball persisted: "You were just thinking about yourself." Sandeson agreed.

In earlier testimony, Sandeson admitted to placing the victim's body in the large duffle bag that had held the drugs. He told the jury that he later dumped the body in a tidal river that feeds the Bay of Fundy, near Truro, N.S.

Ball, however, suggested that Sandeson's body was too big to fit inside the bag, which was three feet six inches long, 18 inches high and 18 inches wide. Ball extended a tape measure to give the jury a sense of its size.

When asked how he managed to get Samson's body into such a small space, Sandeson said he folded the victim's legs up to his chest.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 8, 2023. Top Stories

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