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Defence lawyer questions evidence examination during trial for escaped Metchosin inmates

Zachary Armitage’s lawyer cross-examined RCMP forensics investigator on Tuesday
Martin Payne’s red Ford F150 pickup truck was found in Oak Bay in 2019. A lawyer defending one of the men accused of killing Payne asked about how the truck and the slain Metchosin man’s home were examined. (West Shore RCMP photo)

The defence lawyer for Zachary Armitage, one of the escaped inmates charged with the first-degree murder of Metchosin’s Martin Payne, cross-examined a lead forensic photographer and examiner in the case on Tuesday.

Armitage’s lawyer Jim Heller spent the Nov. 22 trial session questioning Cpl. Kimberley Sarson, an RCMP forensics identification specialist, about how she and other officers reviewed evidence and the scene of the 2019 killing.

At the time she started investigating, Heller asked if she assumed Armitage and Busch had been in the house.

“You suspected that they in fact were responsible, somehow between the two of them, for the killing of Mr. Payne?”

She said it was “a possibility” multiple times when Heller repeatedly pushed that she suspected the inmates were responsible.

“I go to the scene, I examine it like I would any other scene,” Sarson responded.

The RCMP specialist said no when asked if she examined the interior of Payne’s detached garage for fingerprints, leading to an exchange where Heller repeatedly asked her about assumptions made about tools found inside the home.

“There was a saw, a little hack saw that was found in the house, correct, and without knowing, you might assume that it at one point might have been in the shed?” the defence lawyer asked.

“I don’t know if it was in or not,” Sarson said.

“There were two axes that were found in the house right, with the two heads cut off … you might assume that one or both of them might have been in the tool shed,” the lawyer said.

“I don’t know if they were or not,” the forensics investigator said, before the lawyer asked several questions along the same lines and others about why the tools were in the house.

Sarson said she didn’t know what was in the shed before and doesn’t “know what Mr. Payne keeps in his house.”

She said the shed was tidy, it showed no evidence of somebody being injured inside and the items were already in the house, so that was of more interest to police.

The defence lawyer also asked a series of questions on why Sarson didn’t fingerprint the specific surfaces, like parts of the dashboard, or objects, like a cup lid, within Payne’s truck. The investigator explained that those, plus other surfaces and items wouldn’t be suitable for leaving impressions, for reasons like they were too dirty or were textured.

Sarson was asked to lay out what she and other officers were doing on each of the four days when Payne’s house was being examined. Heller pushed her on why she didn’t ask certain questions about certain pieces of evidence and why she didn’t pass along certain items for DNA testing, which Sarson said fell outside her duty and under the roles of other investigators.

Heller also questioned whether a Visa debit card that was found in one of several garbage bags was inside a wallet or located on its own within the bag. Since the card was labelled exhibit 39 and the wallet was labelled exhibit 40, he suggested it would be improper if the card was found in the wallet as it wouldn’t show the correct sequence of how the items were found at the scene.

The trial continues Wednesday in Vancouver.

READ: Bloody shoes found in bags linked to prints at Metchosin crime scene Follow us on Instagram. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.