Murder trial hears of prison escapees’ attempts to get off Vancouver Island

Corporal Forensic Services Specialist Kimberley Sarson filmed and investigated the scene of the bloody murder of a 60-year-old Metchosin man.

Photos seen during the trial in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver showed blood on the hallway walls in front of the master bedroom. An ax handle was found on the carpet in the bedroom, along with a hacksaw and a tape cutter.

Sarson testified that blood was found on the wooden floor of the home on Brookview Drive, then in front of a blue blanket halfway between the hallway and the master bedroom.

Zachary Armitage and James Lee Busch, accused of killing Martin Payne, 60, in July 2019, a day after they left the William Head Institute, about 8km from the victim’s home in Metchosin.

On Thursday, the court heard a recording of a July 8 call to the Gulf Islands water taxi service. Evidence entered on Wednesday showed Payne’s computer was used to make multiple searches for private water taxis operating on the island and around Victoria.

During the 42-second call at 8:51 a.m., one person asked if a taxi was going to Vancouver, and after being told they weren’t going, the caller went on to ask if there was anything other than a “ferry” to go to the mainland.

Additionally, on July 8, Armitage called an inmate he met while incarcerated at Mission Prison.

In 2019, James George was working at the Greater Victoria shipyard when he saw a news article on Facebook about the jailbreak. He then messaged a woman on Facebook — whom he had met at a social event at the church institution — whose husband also knew the mainland jail defendant.

George then gets a call, thinking it’s from the woman, but he recognizes Armitage’s voice on the other end of the line.

“He said he was looking for a hitchhiker and he was on the run,” George testified. “I told him I didn’t want to be a part of it, I didn’t want to be a part of something like this, and I hung up.”

He also testified that the fugitive asked for money.

Armitage said he would call back later in the day, and George, who had previously served his sentence, would not answer until he changed his number entirely because he said he was terrified.

Sarson was also responsible for photographing and checking fingerprints and DNA after Payne’s red Ford F-150 pickup truck was parked in Oak Bay — when the 60-year-old was believed to be missing.

Items found in a clear plastic bag in the truck included T-shirts, men’s underwear, socks and black jeans.

On Wednesday, defense attorneys asked multiple witnesses, including a man, whether he was wearing black jeans when he met the two men on July 7.

The trial continued on Friday.

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