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Lawyer asks why some testing in Metchosin murder case not done

Note found on desk read: “What is your pins for cards?” court told
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James Lee Busch, left, and Zachary Armitage have each pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the death of Martin Payne in June 2019. HANDOUT PHOTOS

An RCMP forensics specialist was asked why some analysis of evidence might not have been carried out as the first-degree murder trial of Zachary Armitage and James Lee Busch continued in B.C. Supreme Court on Wednesday.

In particular, defence lawyer Ryan Drury questioned Cpl. Kim Sarson — who was on the stand for a fifth straight day — about conducting handwriting analysis on a note found on a computer desk in the Metchosin home of 60-year-old Martin Payne. The note read: “What is your pins for cards?” Drury said.

Payne’s body was found in his home in July 2019 after Armitage and Busch escaped from William Head minimum-security prison, about eight kilometres away. Armitage and Busch both deny being involved in the murder.

Sarson said she raised the subject of handwriting analysis with a detective. “As far as I know, it was not done,” she said.

She said the note appeared to be different than other handwriting samples found nearby.

As a result, Payne was not ruled out as the person who wrote the note, Drury said.

When asked if the note raised a suspicion of a robbery to her, Sarson said the only thing she knew for sure was a body had been located.

Drury, representing Busch, also asked about items found in the garage, among them duct tape, tool handles and a hatchet — bearing some similarity to items found in the home.

Sarson said they were not unusual to see in what was a workshop area and they were not singled out.

It was noted during Sarson’s testimony that two fingerprints from Armitage were found in the home and none were found from Busch. Armitage’s fingerprints were on the note from the computer desk and on a duct-tape dispenser, where a palm print was also found.

Payne’s body, found in the master bedroom’s ensuite bathroom, had duct tape on the right forearm and right leg.

Prints from both men were found in Payne’s truck, which was abandoned in Oak Bay.

West Shore RCMP Const. Meghan Groulx told the court she was the exhibit officer at the home, meaning she labelled and bagged items officers had chosen ahead of her.

She want through 12 separate “scenes” or series of items, Groulx said.

Items from the home were introduced in the courtroom, with Groulx wearing gloves to remove them from evidence bags to show them to the jury.

They included a saw, the ­duct-tape dispenser, two axe handles and a pair of running shoes.

The trial continues today.

jbell@timescolonist.com

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