Forensic evidence puts men charged with murder inside victim’s Metchosin home or truck

Forensic evidence puts men charged with murder inside victim's Metchosin home or truck
James Lee Busch (left) and Zachary Armitage (right).

An RCMP forensics specialist continued her testimony Friday in the murder trial against the two men, James Lee Busch and Zachary Armitage, who escaped from a Metchosin prison in July 2019.

Busch and Armitage are accused of killing 60-year-old Martin Payne in his Metchosin home, eight kilometres from William Head Institution. Both have pleaded not guilty.

In Vancouver’s Supreme Court, Cpl. Kim Sarson said she identified three sets of fingerprints while investigating Payne’s house and car.

One belonged to Payne, and the others to Armitage and Busch. The location of the fingerprints put both suspects inside Payne’s home and car.

According to Cpl. Sarson’s testimony, a total of 27 fingerprints between Armitage and Busch were found in the investigation. Ten were conclusive.

Of those, the forensic investigator said two fingerprints matched Busch’s. Both fingerprints were found on the Times Colonist newspaper found in Payne’s truck.

Eight of the conclusive fingerprints matched with Armitage. One was found on a camera, another on a duct tape dispenser in Payne’s master bedroom, two on the newspaper in Payne’s car and two more on a plastic bag in Payne’s car, with another two found on a piece of paper with “what are the pins to your card?” written on it.

Earlier this week, the court also heard a recording of a phone call made the morning of July 8 from Payne’s landline, the day after the accused escaped from prison.

“For quality assurance purposes, this call may be monitored or recorded,” a recording read out. “Good morning, Gulf Island Water Taxi. How can I help you?” said a receptionist. “Hi, how are you doing today?” said someone making the call.

The jury heard that on the same morning, web searches for private water taxi companies, articles about the prison escape, and the name Zachary Armitage were made from Payne’s home computer.

There were no searches on July 9.

An officer who worked at the prison is expected to testify about recognizing Armitage’s voice. Future testimony from a pathologist is expected to detail “chop wounds” on the victim’s skull consistent with what could be caused by a hatchet.

Kori SidawayKori Sidaway

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