A Maryland jury may never hear two of the more startling details in the murder case against Tyler Tessier, who is accused of killing his pregnant girlfriend, burying her in a shallow grave, and then appealing to the public for help finding her when it was believed she had merely gone missing.
In court Friday, prosecutors in Montgomery County, Md., told Judge Michael Mason they would not use a recorded interview Tessier gave to detectives on Sept. 13 in which Tessier asked whether he could speak with his lawyer as police asked how his girlfriend, Laura Wallen, had died. Detectives kept talking to Tessier.
Tessier said that he and Wallen had argued and that as she lunged at him, she ran into a wooden post and collapsed. Then, apparently to explain why Wallen was found with a bullet wound in her head, detectives said, Tessier told them he had fired after she was in the ground because he wanted to make sure she was not still alive and suffering.
His statements were made in an interview shortly before Tessier, now 33, was jailed on a charge of first-degree murder in the death of Wallen, 31, a Howard County social studies teacher who had failed to show up for the first day of 2017 classes.
In March, Tessier’s attorney, Allen Wolf, submitted court papers arguing that the detectives’ interview should not be allowed into his client’s upcoming trial, now set for September.
“Can I talk to my lawyer please?” Tessier said, according to Wolf’s filing. “Can I talk to my lawyer?”
Wolf said the detectives knew Tessier was represented by an attorney, yet they proceeded to talk him out of trying to speak with counsel.
“You can talk to your lawyer whenever you want,” a detective said, according to Wolf’s filing. “But here’s what I have to tell you. This, this is it. You’re not going to see the two of us again. . . . You can tell us whatever you want to tell us.”
Prosecutors from the Montgomery State’s Attorney’s Office submitted a response to the March defense claims, suggesting that prosecutors were prepared to argue that detectives had acted properly. Tessier may have consulted with an attorney before Wallen’s body was found, prosecutors wrote, but he had not retained an attorney.
And although he asked to speak to an attorney while being questioned by detectives, prosecutors argued, Tessier on his own started talking to the investigators.
“I am more than willing to tell you everything you want to know,” he said, according to the prosecutors’ filing.
In court Friday, prosecutors agreed that they would not use the Sept. 13 interview in their presentation at trial. That concession rendered moot a hearing over whether the interview would be admissible at the trial.
Prosecutors did not give a reason for their agreement, but often, at this juncture in a trial’s preparations, they must weigh the risk in sticking with evidence that — if they win — could raise an issue for an appeal and possibly overturn a conviction.
Prosecutors possibly still could use the interview at trial if Tessier were to testify on his own behalf and prosecutors had a chance to challenge his testimony. That possibility remains because, while there were issues that might be argued concerning whether Tessier invoked his right to counsel, the interview was deemed “voluntary,” and perhaps usable to challenge any testimony he would give about what he said to police.
Summing up the 10-minute hearing Friday, Mason said from the bench: “The defendant’s motion to suppress the statement of Sept. 13 shall be deemed as moot. The [prosecutors], having agreed they will not use the statement in their case-in-chief, reserve the right to use the statement in the event that the defendant testifies — for rebuttal purposes.”
In court records, detectives have laid out other evidence against Tessier they say ties him to the death, including that Tessier changed his accounts in early interviews, acknowledged removing the front license plate from Wallen’s car and trying to hide the vehicle, and had spent considerable time in the area where Wallen’s body was found.