Curtis Sagmoen can be seen leaving the courthouse in Vernon following Day 2 of his trial on Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019. (Caitlin Clow - Vernon Morning Star)

Curtis Sagmoen can be seen leaving the courthouse in Vernon following Day 2 of his trial on Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019. (Caitlin Clow - Vernon Morning Star)

Sagmoen’s in-custody statements under judge’s scrutiny

Sagmoen's lawyer said statements made by him while in police custody were not provided voluntarily

  • Sep. 17, 2019 12:00 a.m.

Justice Alison Beames had put into effect a publication ban covering details of Curtis Sagmoen’s voir dire hearing at the request of both Crown prosecutor Simone McCallum and defence lawyer Lisa Helps.

That ban was lifted Tuesday morning after careful consideration following a media submission opposing the publication ban.

Justice Beames reasoned there is no reason to suggest publishing evidence and statements in the voir dire would lead to an unfair trial in the future.

Sagmoen has been accused of threatening a sex worker at gunpoint while wearing a mask in an incident that occurred two years ago.

He pleaded not guilty to five charges on Sept. 9, including uttering threats, careless discharge of a firearm, possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose, concealing his face and possession of a controlled substance.

READ MORE: Homeless man arrested after assaulting Vernon race volunteer

READ MORE: Sagmoen publication ban lifted

His lawyer said the court should not accept statements made by her client in police interviews as the statements made were not provided voluntarily.

In an interview with RCMP Cst. Richard MacQueen, a rapport was established through friendly banter over cigarette breaks where they discussed pastimes and hobbies they had in common, such as fishing.

But Helps said in her argument this was a tactic used to later elicit statements that could be deemed an involuntary confession.

Helps said MacQueen pushed touchy subjects, specifically involving his family, to keep Sagmoen talking.

McCallum, however, said this is a tool commonly used by police officers during investigations.

In an audio recording, Sagmoen said there are only three things he cares about — his dog, his mom and his dad.

Topics involving drug use, employment, Sagmoen’s cellphone, online dating and escort history would bring out a change in a demeanor, McCallum said.

A video recording shows Sagmoen lift a chair and attempt to throw it after MacQueen said computers from the family home had been seized for search.

Sagmoen apologized for the outburst after the officer was able to de-escalate the situation.

Statements Sagmoen made should not be admissible, Helps argued, contending they were made involuntarily.

McCallum said police did their due diligence in offering access to a lawyer, and no extraneous force was used by officers in any interaction with the accused.

Rather, Crown counsel said Sagmoen chose when to and not to speak to MacQueen, illustrating he exercised his right to silence when he wished to.

Justice Beames is expected to make her decision on the voir dire Sept. 23, 9 a.m., in the Vernon courts.

A publication ban is still in effect protecting the name and identity of the victim and in future reproductions of audio and video interviews of Sagmoen, his voice will be distorted — a condition of the publication ban removal.

Shortly after Sagmoen’s September arrest, his parents’ farm was the focus of an extensive search, where police discovered the remains of Traci Genereaux, 18, who had been missing.

No charges have been laid in connection to her death.

Sagmoen has been accused in four separate incidents of threatening or assaulting sex workers.

He pleaded guilty in February for an incident that occurred in Maple Ridge in 2013, sentenced to 30 days in jail and 24 months of probation.

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