On Saturday, a jury found former Halifax medical student William Sandeson guilty of second-degree murder in the 2015 shooting death of fellow student Taylor Samson, whose body has never been found. Sandeson had testified that he killed Samson in self-defense, but the jury did not accept that claim. Crown prosecutor Carla Ball said that the jury’s decision of a second-degree murder outcome indicated that they had rejected the self-defense statement. After 23 hours of deliberation, the jury found Sandeson guilty of the lesser charge. Samson’s family members were present for the announcement.
Sandeson had previously been convicted of first-degree murder in 2017, but the verdict was overturned on appeal and a new trial was ordered in 2020. Those convicted of second-degree murder face an automatic life sentence, with the presiding judge able to set parole eligibility between 10 and 25 years. The Crown argued that Sandeson was motivated by greed to kill Samson and steal the nine kilograms of marijuana he had brought to Sandeson’s apartment to sell. Sandeson had allegedly planned to sell the stolen marijuana to clear a $78,000 debt before starting medical school at Dalhousie.
Sandeson’s lawyer, Alison Craig, challenged the Crown’s assertion that Sandeson was motivated by greed, arguing that her client was financially well off. Craig also argued that the Crown’s claim that the killing was well-planned made no sense.
Justice James Chipman set a sentencing hearing for April 20 and 21, and the Crown will be seeking a sentence that is “above the minimum”.