Sagmoen’s lawyer argues ‘abuse of power’ in police search

The trial of Curtis Sagmoen continued at the Vernon Law Courts on Friday

The trial of Curtis Sagmoen inched closer to the next stage on Friday, as the defence took its final opportunity to challenge the admissibility of evidence from his arrest.

Sagmoen, 38, is accused of threatening a sex worker at gunpoint near Falkland in August 2017. In October of that year, the remains of Traci Genereaux were found on the Sagmoen family’s property on Salmon River Road. No charges have been laid in relation to her death.

Defence lawyer Lisa Helps argued the warrant police used to arrest Sagmoen was not obtained on reasonable grounds.

On Friday at B.C. Supreme Court in Vernon, Helps continued her challenge that the roadside search of Sagmoen’s truck — used to obtain his cellphone as evidence — violated his Charter rights.

“What you have is (the officer) opening absolutely everything in there and doing this very exhaustive search,” Helps said, referring to the lengthy search police conducted before obtaining a warrant.

“If they were looking to preserve evidence or discover evidence, it still goes quite a significant way towards an invasion of this private space.

“There was no reason that they couldn’t have gotten a warrant once the cellphone was bagged and tagged,” she continued. “It’s still an abuse of power.”

Helps also sharpened her focus on the fact that police narrowed their investigation onto Sagmoen a few days after the offence took place. She said how “significantly narrowed” the investigation was on Sagmoen points to the issue that there was no investigation into any other suspects.

Friday was scheduled to be the final day of the current voir dire — the third one this trial has seen so far.

The trial has seen several delays and on Friday, it saw another as Helps fell ill after making her submissions before the morning break. The hearing was paused.

Crown lawyer Simone McCallum had just a few minutes to begin her final submission before the break in the proceedings occurred but used the time to refute the idea that a “near-perfect set of facts” is required to justify an arrest.

“This case underlines that we should not be engaged in that kind of expectation.”

READ MORE: Sagmoen’s arrest was valid, Vernon RCMP officers say

READ MORE: Vernon nurse pleads guilty to mischief


Brendan Shykora
Reporter, Vernon Morning Star
Email me at Brendan.Shykora@vernonmorningstar.com
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