Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Jury Begins Deliberations in Halifax Murder Trial of Medical Student

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Jury Begins Deliberations in Halifax Murder Trial of Medical Student

Article excerpt

Jury deliberating in Halifax murder trial

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HALIFAX - The fate of Halifax medical student William Sandeson, accused of killing a physics student during a drug deal as part of a plan to alleviate his debt, is now in the hands of the jury.

Nova Scotia Supreme Court Justice Josh Arnold gave jurors his final instructions before deliberations began around 3:30 p.m. Thursday. They wrapped up less than three hours later, and were to continue Friday morning.

Sandeson is charged with the first-degree murder of Taylor Samson, a 22-year-old Dalhousie University student whose body has never been found.

The trial has heard Samson went to Sandeson's apartment on Aug. 15, 2015, to sell him nine kilograms of marijuana for $40,000.

In her closing arguments Tuesday, Crown lawyer Kim McOnie suggested Sandeson lured Samson to his apartment and shot him in the back of the head at his kitchen table during the deal as part of a scheme to alleviate roughly $70,000 in debt.

Defence lawyer Eugene Tan said in his closing arguments Monday that Sandeson is not a "criminal mastermind'' and that the Crown twisted evidence in the case to fit its theory.

Arnold told the jury there are four possible verdicts in the case: Sandeson could be found guilty of manslaughter, second-degree murder or first-degree murder, or he could be found not guilty.

He instructed the jury on what he called a "decision tree," in which the jurors need to answer a series of questions to reach their verdict.

Those questions -- the essential elements of the first-degree murder charge -- include whether Sandeson caused the death of Samson, whether he caused it unlawfully, whether Sandeson intended to kill Samson and whether Samson's death was planned and deliberate, explained Arnold.

For example, if the jury was satisfied that Sandeson caused Samson's death, caused it unlawfully and intended to kill Samson, but were not satisfied his death was planned and deliberate, he would be guilty of second-degree murder.

If the jury answers all four questions with "yes," Sandeson would be found guilty of first-degree murder, the judge said.

Arnold told jury members their verdict must be unanimous, although they do not have to arrive at a conclusion in the same way. …

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