Jailhouse informant testifies Schlatter confessed to strangling Tess Richey with scarf
TORONTO -- WARNING: This story contains graphic details that might be disturbing to some readers
A man with a lengthy criminal record testified that while he was cellmates with Kalen Schlatter at a Toronto prison last year, the 23-year-old confessed to strangling Tess Richey with a scarf at the bottom of an outdoor stairwell in November 2017 after she refused his sexual advances.
The Crown called E.S. to the witness stand Tuesday morning. His identity is protected under a publication ban.
According to his testimony, E.S. and Schlatter were placed in the same cell in 2018. During this time, E.S. said he “absolutely got to know” the now-23-year-old.
When Schlatter, who has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder, moved into the cell, E.S. said the “young guy” seemed “scared, but happy to be in a cell where he felt safe.”
At first, E.S. said, the pair spoke about what was for dinner and what was on TV. He said the conversation soon turned to why they were both in prison, noting that “everyone’s story comes out eventually.”
“He told me what he did and I told him what I did – that’s why I’m here today.”
The jury heard the witness’ lengthy criminal record, which dated back to 1992, through the Crown, to which E.S. responded saying “yes, that sounds like me.”
While taking the witness stand, E.S. sat slouched with his hand supporting his head for majority of the day.
The charges he has been convicted of include dangerous driving, theft and break and enter. E.S. added that the crimes he has been found guilty of pertain to “commercial properties,” stating that he would “never break into someone’s home.”
“Having a normal job is pretty boring,” he said.
Schlatter was high on drugs and drunk, E.S. says
While in custody, E.S. said Schlatter told him that he met Richey while leaving a bar called Crews and Tangos and at the time he was high on MDMA, edibles and had been drinking.
E.S. said Schlatter told him that Richey was with her friend Ryley Simard at the time, but Simard left to go home and Richey wanted to stay.
The court has previously heard Richey ordered an Uber to go home, but was deemed a “no show” by the driver.
Two weeks ago, the jury viewed surveillance camera footage from inside the bar that showed Richey, Simard and Schlatter inside the establishment on the night of Nov. 24, 2017. The video never shows the two women interact with Schlatter while inside the venue.
Surveillance footage from outside, however, shows Simard appear to speak to Schlatter briefly in front of the venue after all three had left.
After Richey and Simard leave the bar, video shows Schlatter walking in the same direction as them for a short time.
The jury also viewed footage from the early morning hours of Nov. 25, 2017 that was captured by a motion-activated surveillance camera in the area. The video shows Schlatter and Richey walking hand-in-hand down an alley at 4:14 a.m. towards the area where her body was later discovered by her mother.
Another video played in court shortly after shows Schlatter walking back up the alley alone about 45 minutes later.
Richey was never seen alive again.
Witness says conversation with Schlatter ‘freaked him out’
E.S. said Schlatter told him that he took Richey down the alley to make out before Richey said she wanted to stop as she was “on her period.”
“He just lost control and was choking her,” E.S. said of their conversation. “He was past the point of no control… he ejaculated on her… he pulled the scarf off and she was dead.”
“He got worked up and was sexually aroused… it freaked me out.”
E.S. said Schlatter told him that he saw that Richey’s purse was at the top of the stairwell so he went to bring it down and while doing this he said he took $60 in cash and a “chain necklace.” Schlatter told him that he needed the money to get back home, E.S. said.
“He didn’t want to get a cab to his house from there because he was concerned about getting traced… he took a cab halfway then took an Uber the rest of the way home.”
The witness also testified that Schlatter told him about how he inadvertently spoke to two undercover officers while in a holding cell after he was arrested, asking E.S. if he was also a cop.
E.S. said Schlatter never showed any “concern or remorse” while they were talking and was more focused on how he would get out of jail.
‘He brainstormed quite a few different ideas’
While in prison together, E.S. said he and Schlatter would “brainstorm ideas” as to other ways Richey could have died, including by suicide or someone else coming to kill her after he left the area.
But, later, E.S. said he felt the need to come forward about the information Schlatter had shared with him.
“I don’t like being a rat,” E.S. said, adding that he was testifying for Richey and her family, who were seated in the courtroom on Friday.
After E.S. gave the information to police officers, he received a letter from the Crown, which prosecutor Beverley Richards showed to the courtroom.
The letter reads in part, “as you will no doubt recall you spoke to Toronto Police Service officers regarding Kalen Schlatter who is currently facing a homicide charge. I wish to advise you that you may, or may not, be called as a witness for the prosecution in the R. vs. Kalen Schlatter trial.”
E.S. stated that he was not being given anything in exchange for his testimony and the Crown reminded him that he will not be given anything in the future for testifying.
“Nobody has given me nothing – I am here to help the family and the dead girl,” he said prior to cross-examination from Schlatter’s defence lawyers.
Defence draws attention to criminal record
Throughout cross-examination of the witness, defence lawyers drew close attention to E.S. criminal record. During this back-and-forth, E.S. grew visibly agitated and reiterated multiple times that he is a “bad father, a bad guy and a horrible fucking person.”
The defence honed in on his 75 criminal convictions, including 15 break-and-enters and a domestic incident, to which E.S. responded by saying “it is what it is.”
“I’m probably the biggest asshole you’ve ever met… but I don’t kill women or children… you don’t do that shit.”
Some of the prior convictions the defence focused on dated back to the 1990s.
E.S. is currently out on a promise to appear pertaining to a break-and-enter, the court heard.
The cross-examination of E.S. is expected to continue on Wednesday morning.