With one already receiving life in prison, the second of two escaped inmates involved in murdering Metchosin’s Martin Payne will likely be sentenced next month.
The Supreme Court of B.C. said Zachary Armitage’s sentencing date has been moved to Jan. 11. Armitage and James Lee Busch murdered Payne in the 60-year-old’s rural home in July 2019, after the pair escaped from the William Head minimum security prison.
There was a court date set for today, but it was adjourned due to heavy snowfall in Victoria on Tuesday.
After about a five-week trial, Busch was found guilty of first-degree murder by a jury in Vancouver on Dec. 14. Armitage, who was also charged with first-degree murder, was removed from the proceedings at the mid-point of trial after changing his initial plea of not-guilty to guilty.
First-degree murder comes with an automatic sentence of life in jail with no eligibility of parole for 25 years.
The family of Payne gave heartwrenching victim impact statements during Busch’s sentencing hearing. Those addresses described the joyous, gentle and loving person Payne was, along with the mental anguish his loved ones have endured since the murder.
During the trial, the court heard Armitage’s fingerprints were found on various items inside Payne’s home and his stolen truck. The inmate’s DNA was on shoes and clothing that were recovered from garbage bags in the victim’s home that were filled with bloody garments, linens and other items.
Someone also used to Payne’s computer to search “Armitage” while he would’ve been at work and witness testimony showed Armitage used Payne’s landline to make calls inquiring about private water taxis to the Mainland.
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