HALIFAX — Renovations to an apartment that is the alleged crime scene in a murder case involving two Dalhousie University students were criticized Wednesday by a lawyer who says the work has hampered his ability to defend his client.
Outside court, Eugene Tan said he went to William Sandeson’s former apartment on Henry Street in Halifax on Sunday and found the walls had been painted and that parts of the floor and some drywall had been replaced.
“I was shocked,” said Tan. “The accusations are extremely serious and one would expect that, given that, that every effort would have been made to somehow preserve the evidence.”
Sandeson, 22, was charged with first-degree murder on Aug. 20, four days after Taylor Samson was reported missing. Samson’s body has not been found.
Tan said the release of the crime scene compromised the ability of the defence to commission an independent report on the alleged events in the case.
“It really prejudices the defence in their ability to be able to essentially have a different version of what happened,” Tan said.
The case was put over to Sept. 24 to give the defence time to get more disclosure from the Crown.
Chris Hansen, a spokeswoman for the Nova Scotia Public Prosecution Service, said the Crown would not comment on Tan’s allegations.
“Nothing of the kind was mentioned in court,” said Hansen. “These allegations are new to us and this is something that we simply will not respond to.”
Halifax police spokeswoman Theresa Rath also declined to discuss specifics, but said police did get court authorization to execute a warrant at the address.
“What we are allowed to do is go to that address, gather any evidence available and then our legal obligation is to release that scene back to the property owner,” said Rath. “We are not allowed to turn it over to anyone else.”
Rath wouldn’t say how soon police returned the property to its owner because the information is part of a sealed warrant.
Sandeson is a varsity track athlete who was about to start classes at Dalhousie’s medical school when he was charged.
Samson, a 22-year-old former resident of Amherst, N.S., studied physics at the university.
Tan, who described himself as a family friend who had also coached Sandeson, said his client will seek bail and intends to enter a not guilty plea.
A search warrant document was obtained by three media outlets recently before it was sealed by a judge. They reported that the document alleges Samson was involved in a drug deal involving marijuana before his death.
Investigators subsequently searched two properties in Sandeson’s hometown of Truro, N.S., saying they discovered several items of interest.
Rath said Wednesday that there was nothing new to report from the investigation.
“We’re still following up on tips that are coming in and it is very much an active investigation,” she said.