A grand jury has indicted Tyler Tessier on one count of murder in the homicide of his pregnant girlfriend Laura Wallen, but Tessier cannot be charged for the death of her unborn child due to Maryland law, according to State’s Attorney John McCarthy.
After finding the body of Laura Wallen in a shallow grave in Damascus, police arrested Tyler Tessier later that same day on Sept. 13 on charges of first-degree murder, altering physical evidence and making a false statement to an officer. While a grand jury indicted Tessier on one count of murder last Thursday, he will not be charged with the death of Wallen’s unborn child due to state law, McCarthy said at a press conference in Rockville on Friday.
“Her child was autopsied,” McCarthy said. “A medical team established at the time of Ms. Wallen’s murder the child was 14 weeks old. Based on medical testimony, the child was not viable independent of Ms. Wallen. Based on those medical findings, and as a matter of law in Maryland, as a result the defendant is not chargeable with a second count of murder related to the child.”
McCarthy confirmed Wallen died from a gunshot wound to the back of her head. Wallen, a 31-year-old high school teacher from Olney, was four months pregnant at the time of her death, according to online court records.
Tessier, 33, could face a maximum penalty of life in prison, but prosecutors will consider the unborn child and could ask the judge to consider life in prison without the possibility of parole, McCarthy said.
“Can a judge when fashioning an appropriate sentence take into consideration all of the facts and circumstances surrounding a case and coming up with a sentence?” McCarthy said. “I think the answer to that is yes. I will tell you that as we examine the issue of life without the possibility of parole, we will be considering that. I hope, at the time of sentencing, that would be something we would be discussing openly in court.”
Tessier’s trial date will be set at his next court appearance on Friday, Oct. 20. McCarthy said he is expecting the trial to be scheduled in approximately four months and he anticipates it will be lengthy.
Tessier was engaged to another woman, Christina Wagoner, at the time of Wallen’s death.
Wallen went missing on Labor Day weekend, and her body was found nine days later on Sept. 13. Police located Wallen’s body on, or next to, a property in Damascus belonging to a friend that Tessier frequently visited. McCarthy said there are no other suspects in the case and there will no other charges forthcoming related to possible suspects.
Wallen worked as a high school teacher at Wilde Lake High School in Columbia. She had been dating Tessier off and on for years.