Accused Surrey killer declined legal counsel, saying lawyers are "for guilty people"

Accused Surrey killer declined legal counsel, saying lawyers are “for guilty people”

NEW WESTMINSTER  — A Surrey woman accused of stabbing her best friend 41 times declined to speak with a lawyer after she was arrested for murder, despite Surrey RCMP officers repeatedly asking her if she wanted access to legal counsel.

"Aren’t lawyers really for guilty people?" Jessica Ashley Hanley inquired of the arresting officers, in Surrey RCMP lockup.

Hanley, 25, is being tried for second-degree murder in the death of 23-year-old Burnaby resident Tashina Rae Sutherland, killed inside a small rancher at 10593 138th St. in Whalley on April 26, 2012.

The trial is being heard in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster. Dominating this past week was a voir dire hearing, or a trial within a trial. In such hearings lawyers argue over what should be admitted into evidence.

Justice Elizabeth Arnold-Bailey will have to decide if she should admit three statements that Hanley made to police over eleven and a half hours of interviews as evidence in the trial proper, or disabuse her mind of them.

The Crown is seeking to prove these statements were made voluntarily while the Hanley’s lawyer maintains his client’s Charter Rights had been violated.

Earlier in the trial, Hanley’s boyfriend told the court his place looked like a hurricane had hit it, after coming home from work to find Sutherland’s body.

The court also heard from Hanley’s dad Thomas Patrick Hanley, who brought her to the Surrey RCMP’s District 1 office in Whalley to be arrested.

During cross-examination, Hanley’s father told the court that she hid kitchen knives in her room when she was a young girl.

"She would place it under her mattress in her bed," he testified. "We’re talking about steak and butcher knives."

It happened "quite a bit," he said.

The first witness in the voir dire was Surrey RCMP Const. David Macdonald.

On the afternoon of the homicide, he said, he was standing outside of the District 1 office at 107th Avenue and King George Boulevard at about 5:30 p.m., speaking with colleagues, when Hanley’s father walked up, and tapped him on his shoulder. He said the elder Hanley told him "his daughter had confessed to him she had murdered somebody." Hanley was standing nearby, Macdonald said, "sobbing uncontrollably."

Macdonald said he handcuffed Hanley and led her into an interview room inside the Whalley station, where he "formally Chartered and warned her for murder."

Hanley could be heard sobbing on an interview room video played in court. On the tape she could be heard saying, "I don’t need a f—ing lawyer, OK," and "I didn’t kill her."

Asked if she knew what was going on, Hanley replied "My best friend died I get that OK?"

Macdonald then drove her to the Surrey RCMP’s main detachment station in Newton. This trip was also audiotaped

Hanley was in the back seat, mostly silent but occasionally crying. She told the officer she did some cocaine the night before and drank alcohol in the morning. She also nodded off in the patrol car, Macdonald said.

Defence lawyer Jordan Watt suggested that Hanley was hysterical but the officer didn’t agree. "I’ve seen hysterical," Macdonald told the court.

Hanley was the first person Macdonald had arrested for murder – a task he has performed since. At the time, he’d been a Mountie for three-and-a-half years. He told the court he was closer to senior constable than junior constable status, as a constable receives senior constable pay at four years.

"It’s not that I work in a sleepy town," he noted.

The court heard Hanley told him "I don’t really get why I f—ing need a lawyer."

Macdonald told the court he’d heard that before. "I’ve had many people say that to me after I’ve arrested them."

In the recordings, Hanley can be heard asking if she can go home to see her son.

"Am I able to go home tonight?" she asked.

"I didn’t know I was going to get arrested for murdering my best friend," she told the officers.

The court heard she was asked several times if she wanted to speak with a lawyer, and she declined.

"Aren’t lawyers really for guilty people?" she said.

Const. Eric Kim testified that he believes Hanley understood why she was being arrested.

"I don’t believe she was confused on why she was there," he told the court.

Cpl. Alison Cameron, a forensic identification officer, testified Hanley "didn’t appear to be intoxicated.

"She certainly appeared sad."

The trial continues.

tzytaruk@thenownewspaper.com