Accused killer feared slain man would 'burn down' his home, jury hears

Slain man painted as bully

A Kamloops man on trial for murder told police he was scared the slain man would “burn down” his home, a jury heard Monday.

James Sanford’s second-degree murder trial is underway in front of a jury in BC Supreme Court. The 34-year-old is accused of stabbing 33-year-old Daniel Thomas Myles to death on Sept. 12, 2020.

Myles died following an altercation outside the Acadian Inn on Columbia Street, now known as Canada’s Best Value Inn. Court has heard Myles was stabbed once in the back and collapsed on the front step of a home in the 1300-block of Columbia Street.

In court on Monday, jurors were shown part of an hours-long recording of a police interview that took place the day after the slaying.

During the interview, Sanford described an ongoing conflict with Myles. He said Myles doused his patio with gasoline hours before he was stabbed.

“He dumped gas on our back porch,” he said. “He was going to try to burn us down.”

Police have said they could smell a strong odour of gasoline near the back balcony of Sanford’s suite at the Acadian Inn after Myles was killed. They also found a red gas can in the area, and a friend told Sanford she saw Myles with a gas can the night before the incident.

In the videotaped statement, Sanford also told RCMP Const. Colt Dzaman someone threw a large rock through his window the night before the stabbing. He suspected it was Myles, who had previously broken his window.

“A big rock came through my window,” he said, estimating the incident took place sometime after 1 a.m. on Sept. 12. “It sounded like a gunshot but it was a big rock.”

Jurors have been told the conflict between Sanford and Myles had been ongoing for weeks before the slaying. According to an agreed statement of facts provided to the jury, Myles sent Sanford a series of threatening text messages on Aug. 17, 2020, then smashed the back window of Sanford's suite the following day. The day after that, he sprayed bear spray into Sanford's suite.

Dzaman asked Sanford in the interview why Myles was targeting him.

“I don’t know what his beef was or what his problem was,” Sanford replied, adding he was friends with Myles' girlfriend.

“I’m friends with everybody. I don’t have problems with people. I’m a nice person."

Sanford denied any involvement in Myles’ death when asked by Dzaman, according to the video watched Monday by jurors.

Also on Monday, jurors heard from forensic pathologist Dr. Steven White, who performed Myles’ autopsy. White said Myles died as a result of internal bleeding caused by a wound to his right lung. He said Myles was stabbed once in the back.

Sanford’s trial will continue on Tuesday with the conclusion of the interview video.

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