Call girl denies role in Google man’s death

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IOL pic july10 google executive yacht overdose hayes

Associated Press

Alix Tichelman (left) confers with public defender Diane August during her arraignment in Santa Cruz Superior Court on July 9, 2014, in Santa Cruz, California. Picture: Shmuel Thaler, Santa Cruz Sentinel

Santa Cruz, California - A woman accused by police of being a high-priced prostitute and abandoning a Google executive after injecting him with a fatal dose of heroin would never have wanted him to die because he was paying her well, a defence attorney said on Wednesday.

“There was no intent to harm or injure Mr Hayes,” said Larry Biggam, whose Santa Cruz firm has been appointed to represent defendant Alix Tichelman. “Why would she? He was a lucrative source of income to her.”

As her parents watched quietly from the front row of a courtroom packed with media, Tichelman, 26, pleaded not guilty to prostitution, drug use and manslaughter in the death of Forrest Hayes, 51.

Her eyes were often closed during the proceedings, but she told Judge Timothy Volkmann “yes sir” when asked if she agreed to waive her right to a preliminary hearing within 10 days.

Hayes was found dead by the captain of his 15m yacht Escape last November. But the circumstances of his death were not widely known until last week, when Santa Cruz police arrested Tichelman after luring her more than 300km south from Folsom with a fake story about a client who wanted to hire her at an upscale resort.

Police detective Laurel Shonfield said video surveillance from the yacht shows Tichelman injecting Hayes with heroin “and doing nothing to render aid when he overdoses”, according to court records.

Shonfield also said Tichelman has wealthy parents and dual citizenship in the US and Canada, and was preparing to move out of California when she was arrested.

At the hearing, Judge Volkmann denied Tichelman's request to release her on her own recognisance and kept her bail at $1.5 million.

Her attorneys said she has been unfairly denounced in the high-profile case.

“This case is extremely sad. There are five kids without a father today. But to demonise and sensationalise and totally blame Alix Tichelman for his death is misplaced, unfair and simply wrong,” Biggam said after the hearing. “This case is about two adults who engaged in mutual, consensual drug usage in the context of a sexual encounter initiated and encouraged by Mr Hayes.”

Meanwhile, police in Georgia have re-opened their investigation into the September 2013 overdose death of Tichelman's former boyfriend Dean Riopelle, 53, the owner of a popular Atlanta music venue. Police said a panicked Tichelman called police, saying her boyfriend had overdosed on something and wouldn't respond.

She has not been charged in the case, and an autopsy report listed Riopelle's death as an accidental overdose of heroin, oxycodone and alcohol.

Santa Cruz Deputy Police Chief Steve Clark said detectives are planning a trip to Milton to work with authorities there on portions of the investigation.

It is not clear how long Tichelman might have been involved in prostitution, though police in Santa Cruz say she had many clients in the wealthy Silicon Valley. - Sapa-AP


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