Saturday, March 23, 2013

Jerice Hunter Awaits Trial Date

Ex-Con Mom Charged With Murder Of Her Own 5-Year-Old Daughter
Re-printed from a story at Arizona Central on March 14th 2013

Newly released police interogation tapes show a smug, cold woman making a series of faltering excuses for the disappearance of her own child.

GLENDALE, AZ - After spending a year on local and national television pleading for her daughter's safe return, a mother, who spent nearly a decade in prison for extreme acts of child abuse, is charged with Murder.

Tapes released to local media show a Glendale detective aggressively pushing Jerice Hunter to confess the whereabouts of her daughter Jhessye Shockley during an interrogation one day after she reported the 5-year-old missing.

All the while, Hunter kept an icy, distant composure while sticking to her story that Jhessye went missing October 11th 2011 from her home near 45th Street and Glendale avenues in Glendale as Hunter ran an errand.

The interrogation on October 12th 2011 was included in five hours of video the department released on Wednesday March 20th 2013. Police believe Hunter killed Jhessye and dumped her body in a trash bin.

Hunter was arrested last September after a Maricopa County grand jury handed up an indictment on charges of first-degree murder and child abuse. She is currently awaiting trial.

The video shows police suspected Hunter in her daughter’s disappearance from the beginning. Detective Shane Leske spent hours pushing Hunter for answers, poking holes in her story and asking her where the missing child was.

Hunter insisted she was not home at the time of Jhessye’s disappearance because she went to a Western Union to pick up money that her mother wired to her.

“I’ll tell you right now that we’ve got no record of you ever having any kind of transaction (and) you do not have an account at that place,” he said.

Hunter insisted she had a receipt proving the transfer at home, which she promised to produce for police. Leske questioned Hunter why her daughter missed numerous days of school prior to her disappearance, which Hunter said was because the child had ringworm and pinkeye.

He also told Hunter that her other children seemed “extraordinarily scared” of her and could not pinpoint for authorities when Jhessye went missing.

Hunter became upset at that point and accused Glendale police of trying to coerce her children. Shortly after, Hunter asked to go outside to get some fresh air.

“I don’t like this.” she said. “This is not OK. I ain’t done nothing to my baby.”

When the interview resumed, Leske questioned Hunter about medications he said police found in her house, which can produce blackouts, irritability and possible psychotic episodes. Hunter admitted to police that she had smoked pot while pregnant with her most recent child, who she was still carrying when she was interrogated.

At times, tensions boiled over between Leske and Hunter and the two began shouting over each other. One such exchange happened shortly after Leske said that Hunter knew of Jhessye’s whereabouts and said she was not being honest.

Det. Leske: “You’ve not cried one time. You’re saying you love this girl but you don’t cry one time.”

Hunter: “Ask my family, sir. Ask my family have I cried?”

Det. Leske: “No, I’m asking you.”

Hunter: “I have been crying.”

Det. Leske continued, saying he wasn’t “buying” her story that a stranger took her. “It’s either A: somebody you know, and you know where she is, or B: something happened to her and you’re not willing to talk about it,” he said.

The interrogation ended when Hunter said she wanted to return home. She promised she would return the next day to take a lie detector test, but it’s not clear if she did.

Police, neighbors and the public spent days scouring the area for Jhessye the day Hunter reported her missing. But her body has never been recovered.

AZ Central, Glendale police release video of Jerice Hunter interrogation
KSAZ FOX 9, FOX 10 exclusive: Jailhouse interview with Jerice Hunter