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Port Alberni woman surprised about her arrest for murder, trial told

RCMP officer testified that Samantha Dittmer was later taken by ambulance from police station to hospital in medical distress
Samantha Jesselynn Dittmer has been charged with second-degree murder after the shooting death of her son, Jesse McPhee. JESSE McPHEE VIA INSTAGRAM

Samantha Dittmer appeared surprised when she was told by an RCMP officer she was under arrest for “murder” and ­“parroted it back several times.”

That information was contained in a report by RCMP Const. Christopher High who took the stand Thursday at the Port Alberni woman’s trial for the second-degree murder of her son, Jesse McPhee, on Aug. 29, 2021.

The Crown is alleging that Dittmer shot McPhee, 37, with a hunting rifle at point-blank range, killing him almost instantly.

She has pleaded not guilty to the crime.

High testified that he was called out to the homicide that evening and arrived at Dittmer’s home around 7:30 p.m. He was asked by the lead investigator to take Dittmer, 61, back to police cells.

On the way to the detachment, High told Dittmer she was under arrest for murder. He read her her Charter rights and warned her that anything she said could be used in evidence against her.

He also told her she had a right to legal counsel, High testified.

At 7:45 p.m., they made a call to legal aid but the service was busy and they waited for their call to be returned.

Dittmer did not appear to be intoxicated, said High. He did not notice any smell of alcohol. Dittmer had no trouble walking. Her balance was sure. Her speech was clear, but she was upset and crying throughout the time he spent with her.

At 8:13 p.m., High called B.C. Ambulance paramedics because Dittmer was breathing heavily and appeared to be in medical distress.

When a legal aid lawyer returned her call at 8:22 p.m., Dittmer was too distraught to receive legal advice.

Paramedics arrived and took Dittmer to the emergency room at West Coast General Hospital where she was seen by a doctor. At 10 p.m., she was cleared by the physician and brought back to the detachment.

She spoke to the legal aid ­lawyer after arriving back in cells, High testified.

The trial is expected to last five weeks.

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