Man Accused in Pregnant Girlfriend's Death Sought Trial Delay to Escape ‘Public Eye,' Prosecutors Say

Tessier is charged in the death of Laura Wallen, a Montomery County teacher who was four months pregnant when she disappeared last fall

A man accused of killing his pregnant girlfriend and burying her in a shallow grave hoped his trial date would get pushed back so the public would forget his crime, he suggested in a jailhouse call prosecutors played in court Friday.

Tyler Tessier, whose trial is now scheduled for September after his attorneys said he needed more time to prepare, told his dad on the call that taking a slow approach would give him an advantage in the trial. 

"It looks better for me because people forget, things happen, shootings in Las Vegas and stuff," Tessier said during the call. "When something more important happens, it keeps me out of the public eye." 

Prosecutors said Tessier's comments revealed a desire to delay the trial. Still, the judge complied with the defense's request. 

Tessier is charged in the death of Laura Wallen, a Montomery County teacher who was four months pregnant when she disappeared last fall.

A search-and-rescue team found the 31-year-old's body nine days later, in a shallow grave.

Tessier was arrested hours later and charged with first-degree murder. His arrest came days after he spoke at a news conference with Wallen's family, pleading for Wallen's return and holding her mother's hand. 

Police said Tessier was the father of Wallen's baby and asked Wallen's father for permission to marry her despite being engaged to another woman.

"He has been deceiving and lying their entire existence and their relationship was the only thing that Laura and her family ever fought about," Wallen's father, Mark Wallen, said after Tessier's arrest.

As Wallen's mother left the court, she shouted "that was your unborn grandchild" at Tessier's dad. 

Police said both women knew about their past relationships with Tessier, but both believed he was dating them exclusively. According to charging documents, Wallen sent Tessier's fiancee a text message on Aug. 28 asking if the two could meet. 

"It's important that some things armane cleared up and I would imagine that if you were in my position, you'd want some answers as well. By no means is this an attempt at confrontation, just looking for an explanation," the text message read.

She was reported missing a week later. Tessier told police he last saw Wallen alive Sept. 4, but her family said they hadn't seen her since Sept. 1. 

Police had suspected Tessier's "involvement" since the beginning of their investigation, and allowed him to speak at the family's news conference as an investigation strategy.

"He is a monster and he is a liar," Mark Wallen said. "And it was absolutely the hardest thing my wife could do would be to sit next to him and hold his hand."

In additional to murder, Tessier was charged with altering evidence and making a false statement to an officer. 

Wallen was a beloved social studies teacher at Wilde Lake High School in Columbia, Maryland. Her students and coworkers worried when she failed to show up for the first day of school on Sept. 5.

"She was exemplary," district superintendent Dr. Michael Martirano said early Thursday. "She led with her heart, care and compassion."

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