Sandeson deeply in debt, murder trial told

HALIFAX — Medical student William Sandeson was deeply in debt and under pressure from his parents about his spending in the weeks before he allegedly murdered another student during a drug deal, a Halifax jury heard Wednesday.

A Truro CIBC bank manager said Sandeson owed $73,000 on a $200,000 line of credit in July, 2015.

“It was to allow Mr. Sandeson to go to medical school,” Adam Hayden told Nova Scotia Supreme Court.

Gilles Marchand, an RCMP forensic analyst who pulled texts off the Dalhousie University student’s cellphone, testified that Sandeson’s father told him in July that his mother was worried about his spending.

“Lori (Sandeson’s mother) got mail today and she is mad over the credit line,” a text from his father said.

“Well she has no need to be,” Sandeson replied. “It will be paid this September.”

Sandeson, 24, is accused of murdering physics student Taylor Samson, 22, during a drug deal on Aug. 15, 2015, where the alleged victim was to sell Sandeson 20 pounds of marijuana for $40,000. Samson’s body has never been found.

According to other text messages retrieved by Marchand, Sandeson texted his father on Aug. 16: “I think I will be home Tuesday to drop off junk from Halifax.”

The trial heard DNA was recovered from a bullet, gun, tarp, duffel bag and other items seized from Sandeson’s Henry Street apartment in Halifax and his family’s farm in Truro.

Florence Celestin, an Ottawa-based DNA specialist, said swabs from a 9mm pistol found in a safe in Sandeson’s apartment matched Samson’s DNA profile.

DNA retrieved from the trigger and grip of the gun had three different DNA profiles, one too small to test and one matching Samson. The other has yet to be identified, said Celestin.

Samson’s DNA was also on a bullet lodged into a window frame, pieces of kitchen flooring, and a table and chair, said Celestin.

Witnesses earlier in the trial testified they heard a loud gunshot from Sandeson’s apartment, and saw a man covered in blood slumped over in a chair as Sandeson ran around saying, “I gotta clean up.”

Celestin said Samson’s DNA was inside a big black duffel bag and blue tarp recovered from the Sandeson farm. She added that DNA was found on the strap and handles of the duffel bag, as well as on a garbage bag found with the bag.

Police investigators testified last week that the items were inside an abandoned ice cream truck on the farm.

Defence lawyer Eugene Tan questioned Celestin on potential contamination, after the lab report revealed there was a spill during the analyzing of the DNA samples.

Celestin said that samples were checked and technicians confirmed they had not been contaminated in any way.

Kieran Leavitt, The Canadian Press

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version incorrectly spelled the name Florence Celestin.


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