Murder trial considers admissibility of victim's statements about prior threats

·4 min read
Calvin Andrew Lewis is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Tina Tingley-McAleer on May 2, 2020, in Hillsborough. (Maeve McFadden/CBC - image credit)
Calvin Andrew Lewis is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Tina Tingley-McAleer on May 2, 2020, in Hillsborough. (Maeve McFadden/CBC - image credit)

A murder trial in Moncton heard a recording of the victim telling police her partner threatened to cut her throat seven months before she was stabbed 32 times.

Calvin Andrew Lewis, 50, is charged with first-degree murder in the May 2, 2020, death of Tina Tingley-McAleer in Hillsborough, south of Moncton.

"He told me again, 'I'm going to slice your throat, Tina,'" Tingley-McAleer said to an RCMP officer on the Sept. 27, 2019, audio recording about Lewis. The interview was recorded following a fire at their Riverview home after she fled the apartment.

Tingley-McAleer was asked why she didn't go to police about the threat but said it didn't make a difference previously and would likely result in a court order.

"A piece of paper isn't going to save my life," Tingley-McAleer said in the interview played on the second anniversary of her death while her daughter listened in the public gallery.

Statement not part of trial evidence

The police interview isn't part of the evidence in the case against Lewis for killing Tingley-McAleer.

Instead it was only used as part of a voir dire as the judge assesses the use of a sworn affidavit in which Tingley-McAleer recants on what she told police, saying the earlier statement was given while heavily intoxicated on drugs.

A voir dire is a process to determine the admissibility of evidence. At issue in Monday's voir dire were multiple statements from Crown witnesses during the trial by judge alone.

Tingley-McAleer's daughter, sister and a friend had testified the victim told them Lewis had threatened her. Those statements are considered hearsay evidence.

Court of Queen's Bench Justice Robert Dysart is weighing whether they can be used in the trial.

Defence lawyer Nathan Gorham argued they should be inadmissible. He said the evidence in the case points to Tingley-McAleer using methamphetamine, which affects the reliability of her statements that witnesses have relayed.

"The use of that drug causes — or may cause — the ingester to experience a distortion of reality," Gorham said.

As an example, he introduced the affidavit recanting what she said in the 2019 police interview because of drug use.

Crown prosecutor Malika Levesque introduced the audio recording to add context to the affidavit.

Dysart began saying that women facing violence sometimes recant, but Gorham cut him off before the judge finished the sentence.

"That has no place whatsoever in this," Gorham said.

Lewis charged, but says he wasn't guilty

At some point after Tingley-McAleer spoke to police in 2019, Lewis was charged with threatening her. He pleaded guilty to the charge in April 2020 and was released with credit for time already served.

During the trial, Lewis testified he only pleaded guilty because he wanted to get out of jail as the COVID-19 pandemic started.

"Our position is that it's not true that he threatened her," Gorham said.

Gorham argued the victim's use of drugs should be a factor as the judge considers whether to allow the hearsay evidence.

It was revealed Monday that there was methamphetamine found in the victim's system following her death.

Shane Fowler/CBC
Shane Fowler/CBC

The trial heard from 10 Crown witnesses and two defence witnesses, including Lewis himself, over five previous days.

Lewis admitted stabbing Tingley-McAleer, his partner of about two years, as part of an agreed statement of facts given to the judge prior to the start of testimony. That statement say both used drugs.

The agreed facts say an autopsy found she had been stabbed or cut 32 times.

Lewis admits killing the 43-year-old, but denies he intended to do so. Intent is a key component of first-degree murder, which is a homicide that's planned and deliberate.

Dysart said he would likely be ready to issue his decision on the hearsay evidence by the end of the week.

The defence requested more time to investigate an issue that arose during testimony Thursday from a psychiatrist.

The Crown is also looking into whether to call rebuttal evidence to the psychiatrist's testimony that Lewis likely experienced a drug-induced psychosis during the time of the alleged crime.

The case is scheduled to return to court May 26.

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