Surrey woman pleads not guilty to stabbing best friend 41 times

Jessica Hanley is currently on trial for second-degree murder in the death of her friend Tashina Sutherland (below). - Facebook
Jessica Hanley is currently on trial for second-degree murder in the death of her friend Tashina Sutherland (below).
— image credit: Facebook

A Surrey woman accused of stabbing her best friend 41 times after an alcohol- and drug-filled get together pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder Monday in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster.

Jessica Ashley Hanley, 25, is charged with killing her 23-year-old friend Tashina Rae Sutherland inside a house near 138 Street and 106 Avenue on April 26, 2012.

The Crown's theory is that the night before, Hanley invited Sutherland, a Burnaby resident, to her boyfriend's home, where the trio started drinking.

The boyfriend, said Crown prosecutor Jennifer Lopes, went out and bought cocaine for the women, but did not partake in the drug himself. He had to work the next day, so went to bed.

In the morning, said Lopes, Sutherland and Hanley went out to run errands, which included buying more alcohol, which they returned home and drank.

"At some point, Hanley stabs Sutherland multiple times," Lopes told Justice Elizabeth Arnold-Bailey, noting several of the stab wounds were capable of causing her death.

Lopes said an autopsy showed Sutherland was "quite intoxicated" at the time of her death, with her blood alcohol content approximately three times over the legal driving limit.

Lopes said during the trial, scheduled for five weeks, the court would hear that Hanley stabbed Sutherland many times in the living room of the house, and then dragged her into the bathroom where she continued the attack. Several of the wounds, Lopes said, were inflicted post-mortem.

The Crown contends Hanley then texted her boyfriend and said she'd killed Sutherland and when he returned home, he found the victim's body in the bathroom. Hanley left and he called police.

Hanley allegedly then went to her dad's home nearby. Her father returned home to find Hanley distraught and cuddling her son, who her dad had been caring for.

Lopes said Hanley told her father she'd killed Sutherland. He took her to the police station where she was arrested immediately.

Lopes said Hanley later wrote a letter to Vision Quest Recovery Society, admitting she killed her friend.

"The issue in this trial is Hanley's state of mind and whether she had the requisite intent for second-degree murder," Lopes told Justice Arnold-Bailey.

Hanley wiped tears from her face during the first day of her trial, as the Crown's first witness, a forensic identification officer with the RCMP, reviewed photos from the bloody crime scene.

Const. Darren Thompson also displayed for the court two knives found at the murder scene: one bayonet-style knife with a 10-inch blade, and one boning knife with a curved blade measuring approximately six-inches in length.

The trial continues.

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