Defence questions account of undercover officer in Schlatter murder trial

TORONTO — Defence lawyers for a man accused of sexually assaulting and killing a young woman suggested Friday that an undercover Toronto police officer who spoke to their client in jail may have inaccurately remembered and interpreted the conversation.

Kalen Schlatter’s lawyers cross-examined the officer after he testified earlier this week that Schlatter confided in him while they were in holding cells at a police station in the early hours of Feb. 5. 2018.

Defence lawyer Lydia Riva noted the officer, whose name is not being disclosed in court, could not specify the exact words Schlatter used and instead paraphrased the conversation when he wrote down rough notes roughly 3 1/2 hours into the operation.

She also suggested that what the officer viewed as Schlatter “bragging” about his success with women was in fact a manifestation of her client’s fear of what would happen to him behind bars if it were discovered that he is bisexual.

And despite hours of conversation in which he opened up about his case, Riva asked the officer, “Did Mr. Schlatter ever tell you that he murdered Tess Richey?”

“No,” the officer replied.

Schlatter was arrested on his way home from a Super Bowl party in 2018, months after Richey’s death. He has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder.

Prosecutors allege he sexually assaulted Richey, a 22-year-old woman he had just met, then strangled her when she refused his advances.

Richey was reported missing after a night out with a friend in November 2017 and was found dead in a stairwell days later by her mother and a family friend.

The Crown has said security footage shows Schlatter and Richey heading towards a stairwell together and Schlatter leaving alone 45 minutes later. Prosecutors have also said Schlatter’s saliva was found on Richey’s bra and his semen on her pants.

On the stand earlier this week, the officer said Schlatter described meeting Richey at a club in the city’s gay village the night she died, and kissing and dancing with her there.

He said Schlatter talked about taking Richey to a secluded alley so they could “hook up,” but after some “making out and grinding,” which caused Schlatter to ejaculate in his pants, she refused to have sex.

The officer testified Schlatter said he was upset and left shortly afterwards, leaving Richey alone in the stairwell.

Schlatter also discussed his strategies to pick up women, which included finding straight women in gay bars, according to the officer, who said he believed Schlatter was trying to impress him.

Court heard Friday there was no audio recording of the conversation, though the officer said he believed some of his colleagues were listening through a device. No explanation was given for the lack of audio recording.

The officer acknowledged an audio recording would have been “ideal.” There is also security footage of the cells but it does not have sound, court heard.

In cross-examination Friday, the defence suggested Schlatter’s apparent desire to impress a stranger he believed to be an accused criminal was linked to “certain perceptions” about how people who identify as gay and bisexual are treated in jail.

Riva asked the officer if he was aware of security footage from the club that purportedly shows Schlatter kissing and dancing with a man, rather than Richey. She also asked the officer if he knew her client identifies as bisexual. In both cases, the officer said no.

The defence lawyer also suggested that some of what the officer believed Schlatter was stating as fact had actually been relayed to him by detectives during his interrogation earlier that night. She also argued the officer took Schlatter’s words out of context on several occasions.

Riva also suggested the officer took a more active role in the conversation than he claimed. The officer has said he let Schlatter steer the conversation, at times repeating what Schlatter said to him or chiming in with “filler words.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A health-care worker prepares to swab a man at a walk-in COVID-19 test clinic in Montreal North, Sunday, May 10, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
COVID-19 case confirmed at two more Red Deer schools and RDC

Two members of the Red Deer College community and two additional Red… Continue reading

Many rural municipalities were concerned about a proposed reduction to their industrial revenues, but Alberta’s Municipal Affairs minister has come up with an alternative solution. (Photo contributed)
Province and rural municipalities agree on a plan to support Alberta’s energy industry

Creating new wells or pipelines would result in a three year ‘tax holiday’

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole and Premier Jason Kenney participated in a livestream on Oct. 17, 2020. (File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)
UCP members pass resolution at AGM calling for privately funded health care option

EDMONTON — Members of Alberta’s governing United Conservative Party have narrowly endorsed… Continue reading

“We weren’t sure what to expect with just doing the 50/50. We have been positively surprised with sales so far,” says Craig Fleming, co-chair of the Red Deer Kinsmen Club’s raffle. (Photo by SUSAN ZIELINSKI/Advocate staff)
Non-profits put their money on 50/50 draws

COVID impacts fundraising events

Student taking a math test. (Pixabay photo)
David Marsden: Students need more testing, not less

Testing has been central to Alberta’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s… Continue reading

Executive Director of Agape Kate Halas (left) receives $1000 from Sgt. Eric Christensen (right) on behalf of Agape. Photo/ Shaela Dansereau.
Former Wetaskiwin Peace Officer wins provincial award; gives back to Wetaskiwin community

Eric Christensen has won the Alberta Association of Community Peace Officers Award of Excellence.

Email editor@federalwaymirror.com
It’s a mistake to meddle with dispatching ambulances

As per usual UCP tactics, on Friday afternoon, our “esteemed” minister of… Continue reading

Grant and Barbara Howse, in quarantine in Invermere. Mike Turner photo
Denied entry into U.S., Canadian couple still forced to quarantine for 2 weeks

The rules around crossing the U.S. border led to a bizarre situation for an Invermere couple

Employee Sophia Lovink shows off a bag of merchandise in Toronto on Thursday, June 11, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
Canada gets C-average grade on 2nd year of cannabis legalization

Cannabis Council of Canada releases report card on federal government and legalization

Los Angeles Galaxy goalkeeper Jonathan Klinsmann (33) stops a shot from Vancouver Whitecaps’s Lucas Cavallini during the second half of an MLS soccer match, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020, in Carson, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Koreniuk’s goal helps Galaxy beat Whitecaps, snap skid

Vancouver has lost five of its last seven games

In this file photo, Mike Weir, of Canada, hits out of the bunker on hole one during the 2017 Canadian Open at the Glen Abbey golf club, in Oakville, Ont., on Friday, July 28, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Weir settles for second as Mickelson wins to go 2 for 2 on senior tour

PGA Tour Champions’ stop at The Country Club of Virginia

Most Read