RCMP officer accused of sexual assault could take stand Thursday

Crown prosecutor expected to finish her case in morning

A Red Deer RCMP officer accused of sexual assault will likely take the stand in his own defence Thursday.

Defence lawyer Robb Beeman told Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Grant Dunlop that he expects Const. Jason Andrew Tress will give evidence on the fourth day of his judge-alone trial.

Crown prosecutor Photini Papadatou plans to wrap up her case in the morning with video taken of Melissa Heinrichs, 22, when she was in police custody at Red Deer RCMP’s downtown detachment on July 1, 2016.

Heinrichs has accused Tress of coercing her to lift her top and show him her breasts while they were alone in a fingerprint room unmonitored by video during her nearly eight-hour stay at the detachment.

ALSO READ: Red Deer officer accused of asking prisoner to lift up her top

Tress denies anything happened and has pleaded not guilty to sexual assault and breach of trust.

A detailed statement Tress voluntarily gave Alberta Serious Incident Response Team investigators in the presence of a lawyer is also expected to be a part of Thursday’s proceedings.

The transcript of the statement runs to 149 pages.

On Wednesday, four RCMP officers and two prison cell guards testified about their interactions with Heinrichs on the day she was arrested, or in interviews a couple of weeks later.

Const. Jacqueline Beebor testified that she was called in to search Heinrichs.

Beebor said at one point, she was with Heinrichs when Tress came by and took Heinrichs to the fingerprint room.

Tress had been one of the officers called to a Travelodge hotel in Red Deer after staff spotted a gun in a room being used by Heinrichs and her boyfriend, Keifer Collins.

A pair of rifles were later found hidden in a stairwell, and both Heinrichs and Collins were arrested and taken to the detachment in separate vehicles.

Beebor said she saw Tress and Heinrichs facing each other as she passed the fingerprint room, where the door was closed.

She went by a second time after getting some items she had forgotten in another part of the station. Tress and Heinrichs were still inside talking.

Beebor said she made eye contact through a window with Tress, who then closed the blinds.

A video monitor, similar to those in place in interview rooms, has since been added to the fingerprint room.

Guard Barry Riege testified he was on duty from 2:45 to 9 p.m., when Heinrichs was released without charges.

He was interviewed by ASIRT investigators in July 2016 about his recollections of Heinrichs’ time in police custody.

Cellblock logs show she was taken out of her cell twice during that time, including for a lengthy interview with Tress lasting more than 90 minutes. Video of that uneventful interview was shown in court earlier this week.

Heinrichs, who was then a drug addict, mostly appeared to sleep in her cell during the rest of her time in custody.

Riege told investigators in 2016 there was no apparent change in Heinrichs’ demeanor from the time he first saw her and until she left.

“She just seemed very quiet and calm.”

Riege also testified that in his experience, it was rare for the fingerprint room door to be closed.

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