Judge to weigh admissibility of confession in murder of Md. teacher

Laura Wallen was pregnant when she was killed in September 2017. Tyler Tessier is charged with her murder. (Courtesy Montgomery County Police)

EDITOR’S NOTE: An earlier version of this story gave the wrong date for the hearing.

WASHINGTON — A Montgomery County, Maryland judge will hear arguments Friday from prosecutors who say Tyler Tessier shot his pregnant girlfriend once in the head because he was afraid he had buried her alive, and defense attorneys who claim detectives violated their client’s constitutional rights.

Tessier is charged with first-degree murder in the September 2017 death of Laura Wallen, a teacher in Howard County. Her body was found in a shallow grave in a Damascus field, a short distance from the home of a friend, where Tessier was staying.

In an motion filed in March, State’s Attorney John McCarthy and assistant prosecutors Donna Fenton and Mary Herdman said Tessier initially told detectives he and Wallen had been kidnapped by several African-American men in Olney at Wallen’s home, and were forced to drive to Damascus in Tessier’s vehicle, where the men shot and killed Wallen.

Prosecutors said Tessier recanted, then acknowledged during a fight, Wallen attempted to attack him with a pair of scissors, “but he was able to get out of the way, and she ran into a wooden post on the porch and collapsed.”

Tessier did not call for help, and instead buried Wallen in the field, on Price Distillery Road, according to the prosecution motion.

“When he grew concerned perhaps she was not deceased and that he had buried her alive, he stated he shot her once in the back of the head, to ensure she wasn’t suffering,” according to prosecutors.

Earlier, Tessier’s public defender Allen Wolf said detectives violated his client’s rights by continuing to ask him questions without his lawyer present.

Wolf said Tessier’s Constitutional right to counsel and right against self-incrimination were violated during a Sept. 13, 2017 interview, after he had been arrested.

Wolf wrote the police response to Tessier’s request for counsel “was first to ignore it, and second, to talk him out of it.”

Tessier’s 10-day trial is scheduled to begin Sept. 4.

Prosecutors have said they intend to seek life in prison with no chance of parole for Tessier.

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