Defence in Schlatter trial questions man they say could be alternate suspect | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Defence in Schlatter trial questions man they say could be alternate suspect

Defence lawyer Lydia Riva questions Kalen Schlatter as Justice Michael Dambrot looks on in a Toronto courtroom on Monday, March 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Alexandra Newbould
March 12, 2020 - 4:08 PM

TORONTO - Defence lawyers for a Toronto man accused of sexually assaulting and strangling a young woman suggested Thursday that another man was responsible for the killing.

Lawyers representing Kalen Schlatter called a man who can only be identified as J.G. to the stand, accusing him of following Tess Richey on the night she disappeared in the hope of having sex with her.

Schlatter has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in Richey's death.

Lawyer Lydia Riva suggested that J.G., whose identity is protected by a publication ban, was watching from behind a tall wooden fence as her client and Richey went into an outdoor stairwell to make out.

When Schlatter left, J.G. saw "an opportunity" and went over the fence and approached Richey, who spurned him, she argued.

"You were surprised that she rejected you, she didn't want to see you. You assaulted her and there was struggle and you killed her," Riva told J.G.

"No, ma'am," he replied.

Schlatter's lawyers have previously raised questions about J.G., who can be seen wearing a light pink trucker hat and dark parka in some security footage from the area the night Richey went missing.

He last appears on video walking towards his home around 3:40 a.m. on Nov. 25, 2017, — more than half an hour before Schlatter and Richey are captured on surveillance footage going into the laneway with the stairwell. Another video shows Schlatter emerging alone about 45 minutes later.

Richey is never seen leaving the area. Her body was found in the stairwell days later by her mother and a family friend.

J.G., who has autism and Asperger syndrome, said he had been walking "out and about" in the neighbourhood that night partly because that's his way of interacting with people.

On the stand Thursday, the short, muscular man testified that he saw Richey and her two companions — who court has heard were Schlatter and her friend Ryley Simard — a few times, first coming across the group shortly after 3 a.m. near the ATM where he had gone to withdraw money.

He said Richey, a woman he had never met, called out to him and tried to start a conversation but was held back and "coerced or led away" by the two others.

J.G. said he walked a loop in the neighbourhood hoping to see Richey again. He did see the group a second time and Richey tried to talk to him but was dissuaded by Schlatter, he said.

He kept walking and headed home a short time later, he said.

He noted that Richey did not seem "romantically involved" with either of her companions, adding there were no traditional signs of physical affection such as holding hands or hugging.

The defence repeatedly asked if he had left his apartment that night because he was "looking for sex," which J.G. eventually agreed was the case, though he clarified he was looking for "sex or something."

Riva suggested he thought Richey was sexually interested in him and began following her, but J.G. rejected her narrative, saying he was mostly curious about why Richey wanted to talk to him.

Under cross-examination from the Crown, J.G. said he doesn't get much attention from women and his social anxiety made him too shy to talk to Richey even after she reached out.

J.G., who lived in the area, recalled seeing posters about a missing person in the neighbourhood in the days after Richey vanished, but said he did not immediately recognize her because she wore sunglasses in the photo.

He went to the police station to talk to investigators after reading a news story about Richey's body being found, he said.

The article said it was expected her death would be ruled to be from "misadventure," and he believed there had been foul play given what he had seen that night, he said.

He gave a video statement that day and was later asked to submit a DNA sample. Nothing found on Richey matched his DNA.

Court has heard Schlatter's semen was found on Richey's pants. His saliva was found on her bra.

Schlatter testified earlier this week that the young woman was alive when he left her following a consensual sexual encounter.

He told the court he met Richey and Simard after they all left the same club, and that Richey made the first move after her friend went home.

Schlatter said he and Richey made out in a stairwell, but she declined to have sex and they parted a bit later.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on March 12, 2020.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2020
The Canadian Press

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