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Forensics expert testifies inmates’ fingerprints found in home, truck of slain Metchosin man

Escaped inmates Zachary Armitage and James Lee Busch are charged with killing Martin Payne
James Lee Busch and Zachary Armitage are charged with the first-degree murder of 60-year-old Martin Payne after they escaped William Head institution on July 7, 2019. (Correctional Service of Canada/Facebook)

Forensic analyses matched the fingerprints of the escaped inmates with ones found on items in the home and pickup truck of a 60-year-old Metchosin man who was killed in 2019, a court heard on Friday (Nov. 18).

Zachary Armitage and James Lee Busch are charged with killing Martin Payne a day after the pair walked away from the William Head minimum-security prison, located about eight kilometres from the victim’s Metchosin home on Brookview Drive.

Payne’s body was found with grey duct tape around his right forearm and right leg, while other articles of bloody clothing were found with duct tape on them as well.

Armitage’s palm prints were on a tape dispenser that was on the floor of Payne’s master bedroom, testified Cpl. Kimberley Sarson, an RCMP forensic identification specialist who examined evidence in the case. The court on Friday classified Sarson as an expert witness in fingerprinting and footwear impressions.

“It is my opinion that both impressions originated from the same source,” Sarson said.

She repeated that line when confirming another fingerprint on the front side of a newspaper matched Busch’s prints. That paper was found in Payne’s pickup truck and Armitage also left a matching print on a camera.

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

In the master en-suite, where Payne’s body lay, footprint impressions were found on both sides of the toilet rim and Sarson said multiple impressions were overlapping or side by side on the bathroom floor.

Sarson closely analyzed a pair of blood-covered New Balance shoes that were inside black garbage bags in the master bedroom. She said a deeper examination was due to the shoes being related to the footprint impressions in the bathroom.

Friday’s testimony covered Sarson’s examination of evidence throughout Payne’s home and other items connected with the accused inmates’ escape and prison cells.

A waffle-knit, long-sleeved shirt was discovered near the William Head prison, with a similar shirt – stained with blood –located inside Payne’s home along with waffle-knit long-sleeve shirts found in both Busch’s and Armitage’s possessions at William Head Institution.

The garbage bags in the bedroom – which held blood-covered shoes, blankets, towels, cloths and other articles of clothing – also contained a bloodied white waffle long-sleeve.

There was a pocket knife atop one of the garbage bags and chewing gum at the Brookview Drive crime scene, and the court heard a pocket knife and gum were also items within a backpack the inmates had during their escape from jail.

Two axe heads were located in a closet of Payne’s home while an axe handle on the floor of the master bedroom was cut on one end and splintered down its side. A double-axe head fit together with a handle found in the master bedroom and splintered piece of wood fit into the side of the axe, Sarson said.

A single-blade axe head found in the closet fit together with another handle that was in the kitchen.

Sarson photographed sawdust that was on the ground in the dining room. The court has already heard that a hack saw was found at the crime scene.

The trial continues in Vancouver next week.

READ: Couple recalls doorstep encounter with inmates accused of murdering Metchosin man Follow us on Instagram.
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Jake Romphf

About the Author: Jake Romphf

In early 2021, I made the move from the Great Lakes to Greater Victoria with the aim of experiencing more of the country I report on.
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