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Pair charged with killing Metchosin man after escaping prison will go to trial in November

A Vancouver B.C. Supreme Court jury will hear the murder case against two men who allegedly killed a Metchosin man after escaping from a local prison.
James Lee Busch, left, and Zachary Armitage are charged with first-degree murder in connection with the July 2019 death of Martin Payne. PHOTO: CORRECTIONAL SERVICE OF CANADA

The B.C. Supreme Court jury trial of two inmates charged with killing a man during a Vancouver Island prison break almost three years ago will go ahead Nov. 15.

James Lee Busch and Zachary Armitage are charged with first-degree murder in the death of Martin Payne, 60, on July 8, 2019.

The pair successfully applied to have their trial moved to Vancouver. Evidence, submissions and Justice Michael Tammen’s reasons for the change-of-venue decision cannot be reported due to a publication ban.

Police have said the two inmates escaped from the Victoria-area William Head Institution by walking away at low tide on July 7, 2019.

They were recaptured on the evening of July 9 in Esquimalt after being recognized by an off-duty RCMP officer out walking his dog.

West Shore RCMP found Payne’s body in his Metchosin home on July 12 after he didn’t show up for work.

Justice Janet Winteringham heard Jan. 12 that a pre-trial conference might be needed to deal with jury selection issues. A hearing may also take place to hear an application on the validity of a DNA warrant.

Also, given the change of venue, Winteringham vacated a previous court decision saying Busch must be held at Victoria’s Wilkinson Road jail.

Busch and Armitage have already pleaded guilty to the prison break and received 12-month sentences.

The trial is expected to last five weeks.

With files from Louise Dickson