Jury trial begins for accused Edson killer allegedly obsessed with his 14-year-old victim

A three-week jury trial is underway in Hinton. Tyrell Perron, 23, is charged with first-degree murder and offering an indignity to a dead body. On March 4, 2016, a 14-year-old Edson girl was stabbed and smothered. The jury has been told Perron was "obsessed" with her.

Warning: Disturbing, graphic details

Tyrell Perron in an arrest photo taken on March 4, 2016, hours after he allegedly killed a 14-year-old girl. (RCMP/Court exhibit )

Hours before the sun came up on March 4, 2016, 21-year-old Tyrell Perron allegedly stood over a sleeping 14-year-old girl with a black folding knife in his hand.

Inside the dark Edson apartment living room, illuminated only by the light of a television screen, he allegedly stabbed her in the neck repeatedly.

Perron is charged with the first-degree murder of the teen, who can only be identified by the initials D.H. due to a court-ordered publication ban. He is also accused of offering an indignity to her dead body.

A three-week jury trial began Monday in Hinton with an opening statement from Crown prosecutor Phil LeFeuvre.

"Much of the evidence in this case will be difficult to hear and see," LeFeuvre warned. "You will hear and see disturbing things."

He told the jury that after Perron stabbed the teen, he smothered her with a pillow, then sexually assaulted her.

"Tyrell Perron had been thinking about killing [D.H.] for a while," LeFeuvre said. "In fact, Mr. Perron stood over [her] the night before and contemplated killing her."

The prosecutor said Perron had become obsessed with the 14-year-old.

So far, the jury hasn't been told why.

'I thought she was having a night terror'

On the last day she was alive, D.H. skipped her Grade 9 classes to hang out and smoke pot with her friends. Then around 6 p.m. she headed over to the Brian Manor apartment building in Edson. Three people lived in that third-floor apartment: Cora Fredericks, her boyfriend Derrick Hankins and Perron, who was Hankins' best friend.

Fredericks told the jury D.H. often stayed at their place overnight and usually slept on the living room couch. On March 3, 2016, the four of them sat in the living room watching movies and passing around a bong filled with marijuana. Fredericks said they were all feeling, "relaxed and happy".

Hankins worked the overnight shift at an Edson 7-Eleven convenience store. He left to go to work around 11:30 p.m. and Fredericks said she fell asleep.

She woke up abruptly at 4:40 a.m. to the sound of D.H.'s screams coming from the living room.

"I was a little bit concerned because I thought she was having a night terror," Fredericks testified. "When it became frequent I went into the living room to go check on her."

The Edson apartment building where D.H. was killed on March 4, 2016. (RCMP/Court exhibit )

Fredericks said she saw her friend lying on the couch with Perron pinning her down and holding a pillow over her face.

"It looked like she was kind of struggling, moving her legs, trying to get her legs out," Fredericks told the jury.

Despite that and the ongoing screams, she didn't think her friend was in any danger.

"I was asking Ty if everything was OK," Fredericks testified, "if he needed help, because it looked like he was trying to stop her from hurting herself."

She said Perron "harshly" told her to go back to her room.

The prosecutor asked what was going through her mind at the time.

"I thought she was having a night terror and he had it all under control," Fredericks said. "I turned and went back to my room. I didn't think anything of it."

Fredericks fell back asleep and woke up around 8 a.m. when her boyfriend returned home from work.

They both went into the living room, but neither realized D.H. was dead on the couch, covered with a blanket.

The bloody crime scene after the victim's body was removed. Exhibit 10 is the knife that was allegedly used to stab D.H. (RCMP/Court exhibit )

"When we got into the living room all I noticed was that there's a big blood puddle at the corner of the far end of the couch," Fredericks said.

She said she thought D.H. must have had "a really bad nose bleed." They decided to let her keep sleeping while they went out to visit a friend.

She didn't clean up the blood. 

When the couple returned around 9:30 a.m., they figured it was time to wake up D.H.

"I shake her arm. Say it's time to get up," Fredericks said. "I don't get a response. We couldn't wake her up."

She thought her friend's arm was floppy. Her boyfriend pulled back the blanket over D.H.'s head and discovered the awful truth.

They found Perron sitting inside a storage closet in the apartment. The two men had a brief conversation. Fredericks overheard Perron telling a "joke."

She heard him say, "What's the difference between a dead 14-year-old girl and a Ferrari?" with the punchline, "We don't have a Ferrari."

Police called to the scene

Perron left the apartment, the couple gathered up all their evidence of drug use to remove it from the apartment, then Hankins called 911.

He also moved D.H.'s body from the couch to the floor.

In court Tuesday, Fredericks began to cry on the witness stand as she looked at a crime scene photo of her dead friend on the living room floor.

An autopsy revealed D.H. died of smothering and of a stab wound to the neck that perforated her carotid artery. The 14-year-old's body was covered with bruises and scratches.

DNA evidence showed Perron had sexually assaulted the teen.

The alleged murder weapon is a black folding knife that police discovered under a cushion on the couch where D.H. was stabbed. (RCMP/Court exhibit)

The victim's DNA was also found on a knife, discovered by police under a cushion on the couch where D.H. was killed.

"DNA evidence will show that Mr. Perron attempted to hide a bloody T-shirt at his mom's apartment," the prosecutor said in his opening statement. "The DNA on the shirt shows that the blood came from [D.H.]"

Perron was arrested and charged with first-degree murder the same day D.H. died.

The jury has been told that the next day, Perron confessed to police he was responsible for the crime. The 10 men and three women will watch the videotaped confession near the end of the Crown's case.

"In that interview, you will see the accused confess to killing and sexually assaulting [D.H.]", LeFeuvre said.

"You will also hear that the accused had been thinking about doing this for awhile."

The Crown plans to call almost two dozen witnesses.

Perron's best friend, Hankins, is expected to testify Wednesday.

About the Author

Janice Johnston is an award-winning journalist in Edmonton who has covered the courts and crime for more than two decades. You can reach her at janice.johnston@cbc.ca or on Twitter at @cbcjanjohnston