ROCKVILLE, Md. (WJZ) — Jury selection is continuing Wednesday in the trial of Tyler Tessier, who is accused of killing his pregnant girlfriend.
Victim Laura Wallen, a respected teacher, failed to show up for the first day of classes at Wilde Lake High School in Columbia exactly one year ago.
She was found with a gunshot wound to the head in a field in Montgomery County.
The judge is following a standard process—calling potential jurors one-by-one to the bench to answer questions from prosecutors and the defense attorney.
The original jury pool numbered 175 people.
Many potential jurors indicated they knew of the case because of the publicity surrounding it. Some indicated they would have trouble being impartial because the victim was pregnant at the time she was killed.
According to authorities, Tessier murdered Wallen because she found out he was engaged to another woman and contacted her.
Charging documents reveal after Tessier killed Wallen, he wrote texts on Wallen’s phone to her family—posing as his victim.
In those texts, Tessier claimed Wallen was upset because the father of her child was another man, and she wanted to “disappear.” In court last month, prosecutors said posthumous DNA tests show the baby was indeed Tessier’s.
Police said they interviewed Tessier four times, and he gave inconsistent stories. At one point, police say Tessier told them he and Wallen had been kidnapped by armed men who shot Wallen and spared him.
In another interview, Tessier claimed an upset Wallen lunged at him with scissors then accidentally ran into a pole and was so severely injured he shot her to put her out of her misery.
Prosecutors agreed not to use that statement at trial because of concerns brought up by the defense that Tessier asked repeatedly for a lawyer before providing it.
They could use it to cross examine Tessier if he testifies in his own defense. The state has maintained it was voluntary.
Tessier maintains his innocence, and it is unclear what his defense will be.
Wallen’s parents have been at court for every hearing and were present to watch the selection of a jury.
They accepted an award given to their daughter last Spring from Wilde Lake High School: Teacher of the Year.