An accused killer standing trial for murder told police the day after the slaying he was “protecting [his] family” from someone he feared would set fire to his home or shoot him dead.
The Crown closed its case Tuesday in James Sanford’s second-degree murder trial in B.C. Supreme Court. Sanford, 33, is accused of stabbing 34-year-old Daniel Thomas Myles to death on Sept. 12, 2020.
Myles died following an altercation outside the Acadian Inn, now known as Canada’s Best Value Inn, on Columbia Street. 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 Tuesday, jurors finished watching a three-hour video of an interview police conducted with Sanford the day after Myles’ death. Sanford stopped short of confessing but did make some admissions.
In the video, Sanford described an ongoing conflict with Myles. He said Myles doused his patio with gasoline and threw a rock through his window hours before the deadly stabbing. He also said Myles previously threatened to shoot him in the head.
“I didn’t know what to think — he’s smashing my windows out, pouring gas on my porch, threatening me with a gun,” Sanford said in the interview.
“What am I supposed to do? Wait for him to come and shoot me?”
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 interview, RCMP Const. Colt Dzaman repeatedly asked Sanford whether he stabbed Myles — an altercation that was caught on surveillance video.
“Was it a breaking point where you’re like, ‘I just can’t handle this shit anymore,’ and to protect yourself you had to do something about this guy?” he asked.
“You know, protecting my family, I guess — I don’t know,” Sanford replied. “I don’t remember. I didn’t want to do anything to harm him.”
Dzaman again asked Sanford whether he stabbed Myles.
“Was it a situation, James, where you believed you had to do something? And potentially that action wasn’t what you believed the result was going to be?” the officer asked.
“I guess so, I don’t know,” Sanford replied.
“I guess it must have been, because I felt threatened that I was going to get burned alive. I didn’t know what to think. I didn’t want to stab anybody — I didn’t want to do anything like that.”
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, Myles sprayed bear spray into Sanford’s suite.
Prosecutor Alison Buchanan closed the case for the Crown at the conclusion of Dzaman’s testimony. Defence lawyer Jay Michi said Sanford will not call any evidence.
Closing arguments are expected at some point later this week.