EVIDENCE - Admissibility - Prejudicial evidence - Confessions and statements by the accused - Voluntariness

Law360 Canada (October 14, 2022, 1:57 PM EDT) -- Appeal by the Crown from a decision of the Alberta Court of Appeal that overturned Tessier’s conviction for first degree murder and ordered a new trial. Tessier was brought in for questioning by the police after his friend was found dead in a ditch by a rural road. The police did not caution Tessier that he had the right to remain silent or that his statements could be used in evidence and did not inform him of his rights to counsel. During the interview, Tessier provided details about the victim, their relationship and his own movements in the days leading up to the victim’s death. During a second interview later that day, initiated by Tessier, he indicated he had recently taken a firearm from a shooting range, which he asked the police to confirm was still in his bedroom closet. When the police found the gun was not in the closet, Tessier was cautioned and eventually charged with first degree murder. In neither statement did Tessier confess but the Crown sought to introduce the statements to demonstrate Tessier had killed the victim. During a pre-trial voir dire, the trial judge determined Tessier’s statements to the police were admissible. The Court of Appeal found the trial judge failed to address whether Tessier made a meaningful choice to speak to the police as a condition of voluntariness....
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