Vernon News

UPDATE: Curtis Sagmoen trial resumes in Vernon; defence says searches not valid

Curtis Sagmoen leaves the Vernon court house Sept. 9, 2019.

A Vernon courtroom heard today how Curtis Sagmoen, charged with pointing a gun at a sex worker near his North Okanagan property, requested a two to three hour visit with the escort and sent her multiple text messages giving a detailed description of how to navigate the rural property's long and winding driveway.

When the escort arrived at a gate some way along the driveway she got out of her vehicle and went to open it. It was at this point, with his face masked, Sagmoen allegedly appeared from the bushes and told her "I'll shoot you."

The details were heard at the Vernon courthouse today, Dec. 5, as Sagmoen's high-profile court case resumed after a two-month hiatus.

The trial opened with voir dire - a sort of trial within a trial - with defence lawyer Lisa Helps arguing a warrant issued to police days after the incident and before Sagmoen's arrest outside his Salmon River Road property in September 2017 should not have been issued.

Sagmoen is standing trial on charges involving an incident where he allegedly masked his face and pointed a gun at a sex worker who he'd called to his rural property. Sagmoen was charged with covering his face with intent to commit an offence, intentionally discharging a firearm while being reckless to the life or safety of another person, threatening to cause death or bodily harm while using a firearm, uttering threats and possession of methamphetamine. At the beginning of the trial in September 2019 his pled not guilty to five of the charges.

In October 2017, just over one month after the alleged incident Sagmoen is currently standing trial for took place, the remains of Tracy Genereaux's body were discovered on Sagmoen's family's property. Charges have not been laid in relation to that case and if police know how she died, they haven't said.

In an application to the court in September to ban publication of the trial, the defence lawyer reasoned a ban should be in effect because of an "ongoing investigation" that "could result in murder charges." The court document does not specify any further details regarding this.

In her opening statements to the court today, Dec. 6, Helps argued the affidavit police filed in court requesting a judge grant them a search warrant of Sagmoen's property was based on "rumour, gossip, unsubstituted information (and) conclusory statement" and was "drafted in such a way" to "to mislead the issuing judge."

Helps argued if the invalid paragraphs were removed from the lengthy affidavit - which appears to be roughly 60 pages long - the judge would not have issued a warrant.

The defence lawyer argued the RCMP failed to identify Sagmoen in the application for a search warrant. Helps repeatedly told the court the only description of Sagmoen used in the application is that of a male wearing “black pants and a black T-shirt,” clothing she pointed out everyone in the courtroom would own. Helps also argued police failed to properly connect Sagmoen with the Salmon River Road property as police do not once see Sagmoen entering or leaving the trailer which was ultimately searched by police.

The defence lawyer points out that while one police officer stated he believed the person he saw on the property was Sagmoen there was no description written in the application.

Helps put forward lengthy arguments about how the police failed to get the necessary proof to connect Sagmoen with the property and therefore a search warrant should not have been issued.

The court heard how several of Sagmoen's neighbours made statements to the police regarding different women visiting the property and "strange comings and goings." Helps described the statements as "small-town gossip" and hearsay information which lacked “credible and reliable evidence.”

Helps described the police application for a warrant as a "fishing expedition."

Crown counsel Simone McCallum disagreed.

McCallum argued police submitted detailed evidence from the complainant describing the large rural property and this alone tied Sagmoen to the property and confirmed the search warrant was valid.

The Crown lawyer goes on to say information given to police from the neighbours about women visiting the large rural property is because of the location "unusual enough" to be valid information to include in an application for a warrant.

She referred to conversations the RCMP had with Sagmoen in March 2017 during an earlier investigation. During the conversations, Sagmoen admitted to police he visited prostitutes. It was not mentioned in court what that investigation was about.

While the defence pointed to the incorrect date being used on that particular piece of evidence - Helps pointed out the applications said May 2017 - McCallum stated the typographical error does not change the importance of the statements.

McCallum said while there was "no smoking gun" used by police to obtain the warrant, "small pieces" of evidence create the bigger picture.

Submissions and arguments regarding the validity of the search warrant will continue tomorrow. The trial has been scheduled to continue for two weeks.

For more stories on Curtis Sagmoen go here.

— This story was updated at 5:26 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019, with more testimony from court.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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