Jury selection starts in Halifax murder case

About 315 people packed the hallways at Nova Scotia Supreme Court

HALIFAX — The Halifax Law Courts were jammed Tuesday as hundreds of prospective jurors were called for the high-profile murder trial of a Dalhousie University medical student.

About 315 people packed the hallways at Nova Scotia Supreme Court, crowding into two courtrooms as William Sandeson faces trial in the 2015 death of Taylor Samson, a 22-year-old Dalhousie physics student.

Judge Josh Arnold presided over the exemptions for dozens of prospective jurors who asked to be excused from serving due to health, financial hardship, language or other issues. He was also to hear from people who wanted to be exempted because they had some connection to the case.

Arnold said people should not seek dismissal solely because serving on the jury would be an “inconvenience.”

“Obviously, this is an important case,” he said.

Each person seeking an exemption was called before the judge for a brief, private discussion about why they should be excused. Arnold then announced whether they would be released and why.

Dozens of people were either dismissed or deferred to other jury pools this summer or fall.

By end of day, six jurors had been selected, and Arnold gave them brief instructions before dismissing them for the day.

A panel of 14 jurors will hear the trial.

Roughly 100 people were told to return to court Wednesday morning for the continuation of jury selection.

Arnold said lawyers in the case expected the trial to last 32 court days, ending possibly on June 13.

The court administration said roughly 1,300 people had been summoned for jury selection, with some not showing up, deceased or unavailable for other reasons. The jury will be selected through a challenge for cause process and asked several questions selected by the defence, Crown and judge.

Sandeson, wearing a burgundy t-shirt and with close-cropped hair, sat at his lawyers’ table throughout the proceeding, with a computer and notepads in front of him.

He was charged with first-degree murder on Aug. 20, 2015, four days after Samson, from Amherst, N.S., was reported missing. Sandeson, who is originally from Truro, N.S., is a former varsity track athlete who was supposed to start his medical studies within weeks.

Police have not released details about how they believe Samson was killed.

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