The RCMP did not believe Curtis Sagmoen's mother was telling them the truth during conversations they had with her prior to her son's arrest in September 2017.
The details were heard in the B.C. Supreme Court in Vernon today, Dec. 10, as the lawyer for the North Okanagan man charged with pointing a gun at a sex worker near his family's Salmon River Road home, questioned one of RCMP officers involved in the Sept. 5, 2017 arrest.
Sagmoen's trial reconvened today with lawyers entering into a voir dire – a sort of trial within a trial – with defence lawyer Lisa Helps challenging the lawfulness of the arrest. The defence is questioning whether police had "reasonable and probable grounds" to arrest Sagmoen.
Three RCMP officers involved in the arrest spent the day in court giving a play-by-play account of the events on the day Sagmoen was arrested. Two more officers are scheduled to testify tomorrow, Dec. 11.
Sagmoen was arrested in September 2017 and charged in relation to an incident where he allegedly masked his face and pointed a gun at a sex worker who he'd called to his rural property. The court heard how Sagmoen had "lured" his victim to the property and then "ambushed" here. The sex worker fled the scene and a bullet hole was later discovered in the tire of her vehicle.
The court heard how police had discussed arresting Sagmoen while he was on the large rural property where he lived with his parents and one brother but decided such an operation may require a special armed unit and could also give Sagmoen a small window to destroy evidence.
A cell phone used to send text messages to the complainant is a "prime piece of evidence" in the case and police believed Sagmoen probably had the phone on his person.
Sgt. David Evans testified police felt Sagmoen's mother during earlier conversations may have been misleading as to her son's whereabouts.
For these reasons police decided to arrest Sagmoen following a roadside stop.
Throughout the day the court heard precise details of the morning's events leading to the arrest.
Police used a photograph taken from a local newspaper to identify him – the photo shows Sagmoen and another man using a hot tub as a boat to float around and rescue people following a flood. The court heard how an officer had parked in an unmarked police car near the Silver Creek fire hall and waiting for Sagmoen to drive by in his Ford F-150 truck. As Sagmoen drove by, the officer radioed other officers nearby that the truck had gone by. Sagmoen's truck was then pulled over by uniformed police and he was arrested.
Helps asked Sgt. Evans how Sagmoen was identified as the person on the left in the photograph. The officer admitted he did not know.
The defence lawyer asked Sgt. Evans why police had used a photo from the internet and not a driving licence photo to identify Sagmoen, that was readily available to police. The officer testified driving licence photographs were not readily available and needed judicial approval to be released. The officer's testimony appeared to catch the lawyer off guard.
Crown counsel Simone McCallum spent considerable time showing the court dozens of photographs taken by RCMP Corp. Daniel Pollock during a search of Sagmoen's truck following his arrest. The lawyer asked the officer to confirm what was in each photograph.
A tin containing methamphetamine and a glass pipe had been tucked between the front seats of the truck was shown in several photos. Sagmoen had also tucked a knife between the front seats.
The truck also contained a shotgun - lying on the back floor with a safety lock attached - false teeth, fishing tackle, a condom wrapper, a pair of women's panties, half a bottle of Jack Daniels, several knives and a multitude of other items. A note written by Sagmoen containing a phone number along with a cell phone and a variety of clothes were also seized during the search.
This is the third voir dire initiated by the defence since the trial began. An early challenge from Helps argued Sagmoen's Charter rights were violated during his first 24 hours in custody, and earlier this week the defence lawyer argued the warrant used to search Sagmoen's property should not have been issued. Justice Alison Beames struck down both of the applications.
The trial is set to continue tomorrow, Dec. 11.
For more stories on Curtis Sagmoen go here.
— This story was updated at 4:54 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019, to include more testimony.
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