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Former cellmate says Schlatter confessed to strangling Richey with scarf

Last Updated Mar 3, 2020 at 2:07 pm EDT

Kalen Schlatter at the first day of his murder trial in the death of Tess Richey (Pam Davies/CITYNEWS)

A jailhouse informant with a “huge criminal record” spanning decades testified Tuesday that Kalen Schlatter confessed to strangling a young woman with a scarf when she refused to have sex with him hours after they met.

The informant, who can only be identified as E.S. due to a publication ban, said Schlatter confided in him when they shared a cell at a Toronto detention centre in 2018.

E.S. said Schlatter described meeting Tess Richey at the Crews and Tangos bar, going to a hotdog stand with her and her friend afterwards, then taking Richey down an alley after her friend left.

He said Schlatter recalled making out with Richey in a stairwell, then losing control when she told him she didn’t want to go any further because she was on her period.

“He was sexually aroused, he wanted to keep going, she wanted to stop,” E.S. said Schlatter told him.

“He tied a scarf around her neck. She was on the ground and it excited him, he was past the point of no control. He ejaculated on her.”

The informant testified Schlatter said that Richey was dead when he removed the scarf. Schlatter described finding Richey’s purse at the top of the stairs and taking some money and a chain from it, E.S. told the court.

Richey, 22, went missing after a night out with a friend in November 2017. Her body was found in a stairwell days later by her mother and a family friend.

Schlatter was arrested in February 2018 and has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder. His lawyers have drawn attention to another man who was seen in the area that night.

Court has heard Schlatter’s semen was found on Richey’s pants and his saliva was on the inside of her bra.

E.S. told the court he initially felt sorry for Schlatter, a young man who was in jail for the first time, and invited him to share his cell.

He said Schlatter was shaken after a visit from his lawyer in which he learned he had spoken to undercover officers while in a holding cell immediately after his arrest.

Schlatter also appeared upset after hearing from his lawyer that security footage showing him and Richey walking towards the alley and him emerging alone was in fact quite blurry. Schlatter said he had already admitted to police it was him in the video, without ever viewing it himself, E.S. said.

E.S. testified that Schlatter ran several potential stories and alibis by him, including the possibility that he had left Richey alive but suicidal and that her family had covered up her hanging. In another version Schlatter suggested, someone else came along to kill Richey after he left, E.S. said.

Over time, E.S. began to view Schlatter differently, he said. He noted Schlatter cried himself to sleep because he didn’t want to serve time and because he missed his “mommy,” but had “no remorse for a dead girl you just met.”

The informant, who acknowledged he committed many crimes over the years, including several break and enters, said he was reluctant to alert police, but the knowledge drove him “nuts.”

“I’m a criminal. I don’t like being a rat,” he said.

He stressed the Crown has not given him any special consideration for his statements to police or his testimony. “I’m here to help this family and the dead girl, that’s it,” he said.