Two prison escapees charged in the 2019 murder of a Metchosin man appeared in court Thursday morning to consult with counsel.
Martin Payne, 60, was found dead in his home on July 12, 2019 – a discovery made after the search for then 42-year-old James Lee Busch and 30-year-old Zachary Armitage, who had escaped from Metchosin’s William Head Institution July 7, 2019.
Two days later, Payne’s red Ford pickup truck was discovered in Oak Bay. That evening the two men were located in Esquimalt by an off-duty RCMP officer.
A statement from Payne’s family released July 13, 2019, said he was “deeply loved,” and described him as “exceptionally gentle” and “caring” with unfailing love, support and encouragement.
Before the escape, Armitage was serving a 13-year, 10 month prison sentence for a violent robbery, aggravated assault and other offences. As a result of the escape, an additional year was tacked onto that sentence. Busch was serving an indeterminate sentence for second-degree murder and assault. He has not yet been sentenced for the escape from lawful custody and is set to appear in court for that charge on Aug. 6.
The men are scheduled to appear in court again on Sept. 10 for an arraignment hearing on the murder charges.
With files from Shalu Mehta.