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)

Crown delves into Sagmoen’s history with North Okanagan sex workers

Decision on validity of police search warrant will be made on Monday, Dec. 9

The second day of the trial of Curtis Sagmoen yielded more submissions by Crown and the defence counsel, but no decision.

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 spent the majority of Thursday arguing the warrant police used to search Sagmoen’s family property had been obtained on unreasonable grounds. On Friday in BC Supreme Court in Vernon, Crown lawyer Simone McCallum challenged that position by arguing the warrant’s legitimacy.

“There’s ample evidence on which this warrant could have been issued,” McCallum said.

While there was no “smoking gun” police could use as a basis for the warrant, McCallum said, there were enough “breadcrumbs” to legitimize the police search.

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She reminded the court of a legal principle.

“The standard for issuing a search warrant is credibly based on probability, and that is not the same as proof beyond reasonable doubt,” she said. “The determination is always practical, it’s always common sense, it’s always non-technical, it’s always on a totality of the circumstances.”

McCallum laid out the circumstances before Justice Alison Beames as she neared the end of her submission.

“We have, here, an alleged offence against a female advertising escort service,” she said.

She recounted Sagmoen had arranged a meeting with an unnamed person late at night near the place where he resided near Salmon River Road, and where the complainant said she’d been threatened. Sagmoen had an acknowledged history of contact with sex workers and had a licence for a firearm, she said.

On that history, McCallum first pointed to an incident on Jan. 6, 2013, when Sagmoen was the suspect in an assault of a sex worker in Maple Ridge.

McCallum then constructed a timeline much closer to the August 2017 event. In one circumstance, Sagmoen’s neighbour said he had been threatened late at night by a woman with a knife, demanding money she claimed she was owed. McCallum said this was not the only account of a woman coming to Sagmoen’s property demanding money, without knowing his name, exact address or precise appearance. Moreover, these women were often clad in heels and short skirts.

The accounts of these women and the circumstances in which they appeared in the area “screams of sex trade work,” McCallum said.

The Crown went on to say the information amassed in terms of connecting Sagmoen as a resident of the property in question was “substantial,” and when combined with Sagmoen’s alleged history of calling sex workers, the information was enough to make the warrant valid.

The trial will resume Monday, Dec. 9, at 10 a.m., when Justice Beames will make her decision on the validity of the warrrant. If Beames sides with the Crown, Helps will enter into a cross-examination with the police constable involved with the warrant.


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