Sagmoen case comes down to circumstantial evidence - InfoNews

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Sagmoen case comes down to circumstantial evidence

Curtis Sagmoen leaves the Vernon courthouse Sept. 9.
December 18, 2019 - 1:06 PM

The Crown has conceded that the case against Curtis Sagmoen comes down to circumstantial evidence based on identity, making for a difficult decision by the judge.

What happened that August night in 2017 on Salmon River Road near Sagmoen’s home in the rural North Okanagan is not in dispute — a masked man brandished a gun scaring a sex trade worker who ran barefoot in fear of her life.

“The challenge for the Crown comes with this not-particularly-great evidence of identification by (the complainant),” prosecutor Simone McCallum said in Vernon Supreme Court today, Dec. 18. “The Crown must point the court to other circumstantial indications of identity.”

The trial ended this morning when the prosecution closed its case and the defence called no evidence. Sagmoen didn't testify. Now lawyers are arguing their interpretations of the evidence.

When the complainant testified yesterday, she said it was dark. All she could tell about the person with the gun was it was a man and he was about her height or perhaps shorter. She also said he was wearing a mask. But when she was shown a camouflage bandana seized from Sagmoen’s home, she could not identify it, leaving the Crown with the challenge of proving it was Sagmoen.

The complainant also said she never heard the masked man say anything, which varied from an original account she gave police. A charge of uttering threats was tossed first thing this morning. Another charge of possession of methamphetamine was admitted by the defence and he will likely be convicted on that charge. He still faces three charges of covering his face with intent to commit an offence, intentionally discharging a firearm while being reckless to the life or safety of another person and threatening to cause death or bodily harm while using a firearm.

McCallum told Justice Alison Beames she would have to connect a few ‘data points’ to find that it was Sagmoen. It all hinges on whether Beames agrees that the person who texted the complainant and directed her to the rural area had to be the man who pointed the gun.

“This all starts with her customer… he arranged a meeting, he knows she arrived. (Only) her customer knows that the gate is closed and she would have to exit her vehicle to open it because he is waiting in the bushes for her,” she said.

Those text messages were found on Sagmoen’s phone after it was seized and from a phone number he has used many times.

She said it was clearly “an ambush” and one Sagmoen may have admitted to, by some interpretation. He told RCMP interviewers that he often arranged dates with escorts but rarely every went through with it because there was no way he could afford $1,000 for the night.

“He still gets some kind of sexual experience from contacting this woman,” McCallum said.

Much of the submissions also centred around technical aspects of proving specific charges.

Defence counsel Lisa Helps said there are plenty of other rational explanations for what happened that don't involve Sagmoen.

She pointed to evidence from neighbours of recent crime in the area and that challenged the Crown's contention that very few other people used the area. 

She also said the Crown couldn't explain why an extensive search didn't produce the shotgun that was used to shoot the complainant's tire.

The background of the case is perhaps as important as this trial itself because one month after his arrest, police found the body of Traci Genereaux on the property of his parents where he lived. Police have not said how she died and charges have not been laid in the case.

The judge will make her decision Friday morning.

For more stories on Curtis Sagmoen go here.

— this story was updated at 2:57 p.m. Dec. 18, 2019.


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