His Majesty The King v. Russell Steven Tessier
(Alberta) (Criminal) (By Leave)
Criminal law - Evidence - Criminal law - Evidence - Common-law confessions rule - Admissibility of a witness’s statements to the police uttered before the police suspect that the witness committed the offence under investigation and caution the witness - Does the confessions rule require proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused actually knew he had the right to remain silent and that anything he said could be used against him in evidence - Are police required to caution persons who are not suspected of an offence before questioning and if so, what is the impact of the presence or absence of the caution on the voluntariness of any statements made - Was the Court of Appeal wrong to interfere with the trial judge’s finding of voluntariness of accused’s statements to the police prior to being cautioned?.
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The body of a murdered man was discovered in a ditch. He had been fatally shot in the head. The police determined that Mr. Tessier was a friend and business associate of the deceased. They asked him for an interview with intent to ascertain the victim’s last known movements and to establish a victimology. After voluntarily attending at a police station for an interview, Mr. Tessier took the interviewing officer to a truck to retrieve items that belonged to the deceased. Later that day, he returned to the police station and requested a second interview to provide more information. He asked the police to accompany him to his apartment to confirm his rifle was still there. At the apartment, it was determined that the rifle was missing. The police then suspected Mr. Tessier committed the murder and, for the first time, Mr. Tessier was cautioned and instructed on his right to counsel. The trial judge admitted Mr. Tessier’s statements to the police before he was cautioned into evidence. A jury convicted Mr. Tessier of first degree murder. He appealed from the conviction. The Court of Appeal set aside the conviction and ordered a new trial.
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