Edmonton

'He told me he did it': best friend says accused killer confessed

Tyrell Perron, 23, is charged with the first-degree murder of a 14-year old Edson girl. The jury has heard Perron allegedly confessed his crime to his best friend.

Warning: Graphic content

Accused killer Tyrell Perron's face with obvious scratches displayed in a shot taken by RCMP shortly after his arrest in March, 2016. (RCMP/Court exhibit )

Derrick Hankins told a jury that on March 4, 2016, he discovered a dead body on his living room couch, then moments later his best friend confessed that he had "snapped" and committed murder.

Tyrell Perron is charged with the first-degree murder of 14-year-old D.H. The teen's name is protected by a court-ordered publication ban. 

The jury has heard Perron allegedly stabbed D.H. in the neck, smothered her with a pillow, then sexually assaulted her. The 23-year old is also charged with offering an indignity to a dead body.

On the last two nights she was alive, D.H. slept over at the Edson apartment Hankins shared with his girlfriend, Cora Fredericks and Perron. Hankins said D.H. would stay at their place once or twice a week and usually slept on the living room couch. 

On March 3, Hankins worked an overnight shift at the nearby 7-11 convenience store in Edson.

He described the mood in the apartment as "normal" when he left close to midnight to go to work.

"I said goodbye. Have a good night and I left."

'I knew she was already gone'

On his way out the door, he said the 14-year old gave him a hug.

Hankins returned to the apartment eight hours later and testified everything looked normal in the living room, including spotting D.H. on the couch, covered in blankets.
Derrick Hankins, 24, testified Wednesday at the Tyrell Perron first-degree murder trial. (Facebook )

"She was laying face down on the couch," Hankins said. "I think she had a pillow over her. It was dark and I saw her feet poking out on the far end of the couch." 

Hankins and his girlfriend left the apartment to visit a friend. When they returned, he decided it was time to wake up D.H., but he got no response.

"I wiggled her foot and I noticed her foot was cold," Hankins testified, his voice shaking.

"I started to unbury her from the blankets. In the back of my mind, I was fearing the worst. I was hoping I was just losing my mind."

After Hankins removed the blankets, he looked more closely at the 14-year old and thought she had been "beat up."

"She looked like she'd been punched in the face about 300 times," Hankins told the jury. "There was a large pool of blood on the floor under the couch. She was cold and stiff."

Hankins said he panicked, worried that he would get in trouble if police found evidence of marijuana use in the apartment.

RCMP exhibit markers at the crime scene where a 14-year old girl was killed. (RCMP/Court exhibit )

"I wanted to get all of the paraphernalia and drugs out of the house," Hankins said.

"That was the first thing you thought of?" Crown prosecutor Phil LeFeuvre asked.

"My first thought was to call 911 but I panicked," he answered. "I knew she was already gone."

Hankins removed all the drug-related items from his apartment and delivered them to a friend.

When he returned to the apartment, Tyrell Perron suddenly appeared from a storage room.

He said Perron looked tired.

'He told me that he had snapped'

"That morning he was there, he told me he did it. He was sitting in the storage room with a shotgun contemplating blowing his brains out," Hankins told RCMP at the time in a sworn statement.

The sawed-off shotgun that belonged to Tyrell Perron, later retrieved by RCMP when he told them where to find it. (RCMP/Court exhibit )

The Crown pressed Hankins in the Hinton courtroom Wednesday.

"Is that true?" LeFeuvre asked.

"That is what he told me," Hankins said. "He told me that he had snapped and I just put two and two together from there."

He said Perron gathered up his sawed-off shotgun and an assault rifle and left the apartment. Then Hankins called 911.

While he waited for paramedics to arrive, the operator told him to roll the teenager over and try to perform CPR.

Hankins said he got his hands soaked with blood as he turned over D.H. and lowered her to the floor. He quickly realized there was no point in attempting any life-saving measures.

"She was dead and cold and there was no life in her," Hankins said.

He and his girlfriend were taken to the police station to provide statements. Hankins admits that at first, he was not truthful with RCMP. He left out the part about seeing Perron that morning.

"At the time, I was conflicted," Hankins explained. "I knew I had to tell the police because that's the right thing to do, but he had been my closest friend for the past five years."

"What about the dead 14-year old in your apartment?" the Crown asked.

"That's why I came clean with the police," he responded.

Hankins said that morning was the last time he spoke to his one-time best friend.

Perron was arrested that night. The jury has been told he quickly confessed his crime to police.

The trial continues Thursday.

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