Jury selection and key witnesses in Pierce County Sheriff Ed Troyer's trial
What You Need to Know
- Ed Troyer, a former detective and longtime spokesperson for the Pierce County Sheriff's department, was elected as sheriff in 2020.
- The state attorney general charged him with two misdemeanors in October 2021. The charges stem from a confrontation between Troyer and Black newspaper carrier Sedrick Altheimer in January 2021.
- It’s unclear if a conviction would have any bearing over Troyer’s role as sheriff.
- KNKX South Sound reporter Kari Plog will be covering the trial. Follow her on Twitter and look for updates below.
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‘The state’s made me out to be a liar,’ Troyer takes the stand in his own defense
Pierce County Sheriff Ed Troyer testified he believed his life was in danger the night he called an inside law enforcement line to report newspaper carrier Sedrick Altheimer threatened to kill him. Troyer maintained he did not know Altheimer was a paper carrier when he called dispatchers and that Altheimer never identified himself.
Troyer said his family had been recent victims of car break-ins when he noticed a vehicle pulling in and out driveways late at night. He said he decided to follow the vehicle to get a license plate. He said when he found the vehicle, the driver got out of his car and confronted him.
“I could see his muscles pumped up and I could hear him yelling,” Troyer said. “ I heard words like, ‘I'll take you out.’ He just laid into me.”
Troyer said the phrase ‘I’ll take you out’ is what he was referring to as the threat to kill him, when talking to dispatchers.
The defense questioned Troyer at length about his background, over a dozen photos of his family, and his career, including officers killed in the line of duty while he’s been in law enforcement. Troyer also testified extensively about charities he’s worked with, getting emotional at times.
Troyer said when he asked dispatch for one or two units he meant he only needed one or two officers to help de-escalate the situation. More than 40 officers were alerted to his location when he called the dispatchers.
He also said he was surprised to learn from Seattle Times reporter Jim Brunner, that a police report had even been written about the incident or that there was an investigation into the incident at all. He said it was a poorly written and incomplete report.
“This is the least amount of information I've ever seen on a police report with my name on it,” Troyer said.
Troyer testified that when Tacoma Detective Chad Lawless asked about the threat claim on the scene that night, Troyer responded “I’m not worried about the threats.” Troyer said he never denied being threatened.
Troyer made multiple statements about his eagerness to testify in front of a jury.
“The reason why I’m here testifying is because the media’s made me out to be racist and state’s made me out to be a liar,” he said at one point.
KNKX has made multiple requests to Troyer for comment on this issue.
I've asked Troyer numerous times to sit down and talk with me about this (and other topics, including his involvement in the Manny Ellis case). He has consistently either denied to talk (citing attorney advice) or has not responded. ...— Kari Plog (@KariPlog) December 9, 2022
Court will continue on Monday when Judge Jeffrey Jahns will decide whether to grant the defense’s motion to dismiss the case entirely, and the prosecution will have an opportunity to cross examine Troyer.
Defense moves to dismiss case saying state lacks enough evidence, judge delays decision to Monday
On Wednesday, the defense attempted to get the case dismissed because of lack of evidence.
Troyer's attorneys argued that, because of his position, Pierce County Sheriff Ed Troyer has access to a non-emergent inside law enforcement line, and did not use the general 911 emergency line, when he called for help.
The defense blamed the response on the dispatchers, saying they misunderstood what Troyer requested.
“They decided to veer off in a completely different direction,” Troyer’s defense lawyer Anne Bremner argued. “I think the case should be dismissed now.”
The defense spoke to Troyer’s intent when he made the call. The defense said Troyer requested only one to two cars later in the call showing that he did not intend to alert more than 40 officers to his location via the highest priority “officer needs help” tone.
“He didn't knowingly cause this emergency through a false statement,” Bremner said. “How can you convict somebody for something they never intended?”
The state argued that the first thing Troyer said when he called dispatchers was that he caught someone in his driveway, and the suspect had threatened to kill him. At that point, the dispatchers triggered an “officer needs help” call despite the fact that Troyer’s request for one or two patrol cars to respond came later in the call.
Assistant Attorney General Melanie Tratnik said Sedrick Altheimer testified that he never threatened Troyer, and a jury should decide whether they believe Altheimer.
“All that's required is that on the date in question, the defendant initiated or circulated a false report or warning of an alleged occurrence,” Tratnik said of the ability to try the charges.
The defense requested and was allowed more time to research case law to support their attempt to dismiss the case. Judge Jeffrey Jahns said he would delay his decision about whether to dismiss until Monday.
Ed Troyer is expected to testify in his own defense later today, but the defense can still decide not to call him.
Josh Harris testimony to interaction with paper carrier limited by judge
As KNKX and the Seattle Times reported earlier this year, Josh Harris came forward to report that he, too, had confronted newspaper carrier Sedrick Altheimer before.
Harris is a Tacoma businessman who ran for Pierce County Council as a "law and order" candidate. He also bailed out the three officers charged with killing Manny Ellis, a Black man killed by Tacoma police in 2020.
Harris said he drew his concealed handgun during a tense conversation with Altheimer.
Altheimer testified to that interaction Tuesday saying Harris stopped him while he was delivering the paper, told him he was a cop and to “get out of the neighborhood.”
The defense said, among other things, Harris would testify that Altheimer behaved aggressively and in a threatening manner during that interaction. Harris would say Altheimer got out of his vehicle, approached Harris with a newspaper in his sweatshirt that Harris initially thought was a gun, and then Altheimer later came to his home, knocked loudly on the door and left a paper with a rude note.
Judge Jeffrey Jahns initially denied Harris’ testimony saying it would confuse the jury.
“It really has nothing to do with this case,” he said.
Jahns later allowed the defense to call Harris to the stand as long as the defense stuck to a narrow line of questioning.
“He might want to tell the whole story and I'm just not going to allow that to happen."
The state objected to another witness for the defense Kim Brown, Sedrick Altheimer’s aunt. Brown is also a newspaper carrier. Brown spoke with Altheimer after Sheriff Ed Troyer called the police on him.
The judge will allow Brown’s testimony. She and Harris are expected to testify later today.
It is unclear whether Troyer will take the stand today.
The case the state is trying to prove and hints of what the defense will argue
The state rested its case yesterday in the criminal trial of Pierce County Sheriff Ed Troyer. Court resumed this morning.
State prosecutors are accusing the sheriff of lying about being threatened by a Black newspaper carrier. Testimony from their last witness strikes at the heart of the case they’re trying to prove.
Detective Chad Lawless was one of the first officers to respond that night in late January 2021. He raced there because Troyer had told dispatchers someone had threatened to kill him. But the report Lawless wrote said Troyer walked that back in an interview on the scene. He testified in court about that conversation.
“Based on the nature of the call and the reason we were there, I asked him ‘did he make any threats toward you?' And he said no,” Lawless said.
Lawless testified that he asked Troyer a second time: "Were there any threats made?" Troyer told him no again.
During his call with a dispatcher, Troyer said multiple times that he was threatened by the newspaper carrier, Sedrick Altheimer, according to a recording of that call.
The defense has hinted that Troyer will tell a different story when he takes the stand.
Defense calls first two witnesses including Sheriff Ed Troyer’s wife
The defense called their first witnesses just before court ended for the day.
The first was Sheriff Ed Troyer’s neighbor Marilyn Guzman. Guzman was not present the night of the incident but she testified that their neighborhood is not “all-white.”
Sedrick Altheimer, the Black newspaper carrier Troyer claimed threatened to kill him, previously described the neighborhood where the confrontation happened as “all-white.” The state did not cross-examine Guzman.
The defense also called Troyer’s wife of 23 years, Wendy Kaleiwahea-Troyer. Kaleiwahea-Troyer began to cry almost immediately as she took the stand saying she was nervous and that it’s hard, now, to be the wife of a law enforcement officer.
“Just tired of it all,” Kaleiwahea-Troyer said. “I want it to be over.”
Kaleiwahea-Troyer testified to extensive biographical information about their family, including their race.
When court recessed for the day, Kaleiwahea-Troyer remained visibly upset.
The trial will continue with Kaleiwahea-Troyer’s testimony tomorrow.
Troyer's defense team attacks initial police report but detective doesn’t waver, state rests its case
Troyer’s defense team questioned the police report written by Detective Chad Lawless including why it took a day to write the report and whether Lawless included all relevant information.
During cross-examination, Troyer’s defense lawyer Nick Gross highlighted that Tacoma Police Officer Zachary Hobbs is heard on his body camera footage from that night saying “At one point, he (Troyer) said ‘he’s going to kill me.”
On the witness stand Monday, Hobbs confirmed he could hear himself making that statement on the body camera footage, but Hobbs also testified he never heard Troyer mention any threat.
Lawless testified Wednesday that Hobbs never mentioned to him that Troyer said anything about a threat while they were on the scene that night.
“If he would have told me that, on the scene the sheriff had said, ‘Yes, he was threatened,’ that would change the investigation quite a bit.”
But Lawless maintained Hobbs did not tell him Troyer mentioned any threat. Lawless said, based on their conversation, he was under the impression Hobbs did not have any additional relevant information necessary to include in the police report.
“He expressed to me that he didn't believe that anything had occurred,” Lawless said.
Lawless said he got a similar impression from the other officer on the scene, Tacoma officer Aaron Baran. Lawless confirmed he did not do a follow-up interview with Troyer before writing his report.
Lawless testified again that he did not misunderstand Troyer’s responses, and he believed he asked Troyer direct, specific questions.
“I asked him if he was threatened, and he said ‘no’.”
After several more questions, the state rested their case.
First officer on scene says Sheriff Troyer told him twice that there was no threat
One of the state’s most anticipated witnesses, Tacoma Police Department Detective Chad Lawless, took the stand this morning.
Lawless and his partner, former Tacoma Police Officer Corey Ventura, were the first unit to arrive on the scene Jan. 27, 2021, after Pierce County Sheriff Ed Troyer called an inside law enforcement line saying newspaper carrier Sedrick Altheimer had threatened to kill him.
Lawless testified he and his partner rushed to the scene as soon as he heard the “officer needs help” tone. He said he’d only ever heard that tone once in his 16 years as a law enforcement officer. He said he was under the impression that someone they worked with was in need of immediate help and they arrived at the scene within minutes.
Lawless said when he and his partner arrived and began to assess the scene, he unholstered his gun and held it at chest height “but pointed in a safe direction,” as he approached Altheimer’s vehicle.
“We believed the Sheriff’s life was in danger,” and that Altheimer could have been the suspect and he could have been armed, Lawless said.
Within minutes of arriving on the scene, after seeing the newspapers in Altheimer’s vehicle and determining Altheimer was unarmed, Lawless said he downgraded the call to let other officers know the scene was under control. “My exact words were, ‘we don’t need the whole world here,’” he said.
Lawless testified he asked Troyer what happened. He said Troyer did not mention any threat at that time. Lawless said, because of the nature of the call, he asked Troyer directly if Altheimer made any threats and Troyer said no. Lawless said he asked Troyer again if Altheimer had threatened him or if Troyer had seen any weapons and Troyer again said no.
“I wanted to make sure I heard him correctly and was getting the right information,” Lawless said.
The defense will cross-examine Lawless later today.
State prosecutors plan to call final witness, Tacoma police officer Chad Lawless
State prosecutors plan to call their 11th witness today in the criminal trial of Pierce County Sheriff Ed Troyer.
The state is trying to prove that Troyer reported a false emergency when he called dispatchers on an inside line and told them he was threatened. The report that was eventually filed by Tacoma police said the sheriff walked back what he said about those threats.
The officer who wrote it, Chad Lawless, will be the state’s last witness to testify. Lawless filed the report the day after the incident, because supervisors determined that would be in the department’s best interest, according to testimony from a sergeant who responded to Troyer's call.
The state plans to rest their case after Lawless testifies.
Testimony from key witness delayed until tomorrow
The state planned to call Tacoma Officer Chad Lawless to the witness stand and rest their case today. However, a lengthy back and forth in court about whether the defense can refer to specific information regarding Lawless’ deposition delayed the prosecution's plans. The state requested and was granted time to file a briefing on the matter.
Lawless and his partner, former Tacoma Police Officer Corey Ventura, were the first unit to arrive on the scene Jan. 27, 2021, after Pierce County Sheriff Ed Troyer placed a call to an inside law enforcement line saying newspaper carrier Sedrick Altheimer had threatened to kill him.
The call prompted an “officer needs help” tone that alerted over 40 officers across the county.
Lawless interviewed Troyer about the incident and wrote a police report the next day indicating that Troyer said he was never threatened.
Lawless is expected to be the state’s final witness. Troyer’s defense will then present their case. Troyer is expected to take the stand in his own defense.
Troyer's lawyer calls confrontation a 'non-event,' Altheimer says he feared for his life
Sedrick Altheimer, the Black newspaper carrier who Sheriff Ed Troyer claimed threatened to kill him, testified well into Tuesday afternoon.
During cross-examination, Troyer’s defense team tried to discredit any belief that Troyer held a racial bias against Altheimer, although the prosecution has largely stayed away from that claim.
Altheimer confirmed to Troyer’s attorney, Anne Bremner, that he never heard Troyer make any racially discriminatory comments, mention Altheimer’s race, or make any racially disparaging comments. Altheimer also confirmed he told Troyer “If you’re feeling in danger, call the cops,” and he confirmed he never told Troyer he was a paper carrier. He testified that he never said anything threatening to Troyer.
Bremner downplayed the confrontation calling it a “non-event” and saying Altheimer’s testimony confirmed “nothing really happened.” This frustrated Altheimer who said, “Something did happen. I almost lost my life for a lie.”
Bremner later clarified she was referring to everything that happened between Troyer and Altheimer before police arrived as a “non-event.”
The prosecution asked how Altheimer knew the officers’ guns were drawn when they arrived on scene. He responded: “When you are sitting in a vehicle, and you are Black, and cops surround you, guns are drawn.”
Altheimer said he feared for his life twice during that incident: initially when Troyer began to follow him, “not knowing what was going to happen,” and again when the police showed up.
Black newspaper carrier describes multiple confrontations on paper route
Sedrick Altheimer, the Black newspaper carrier who Sheriff Ed Troyer claimed threatened to kill him, took the stand Tuesday morning.
Troyer faces one count of false reporting and another count of making a false or misleading statement to a public servant.
Before Altheimer testified to his encounter with Troyer, he became visibly upset when asked to describe how a paper route works, pausing for a few moments to collect himself.
“I drive up to the houses and deliver them,” he said, detailing how newspapers get to customers' doorsteps. He said he’s confronted about twice a month by police and civilians questioning what he’s doing while on his route.
Altheimer described two encounters in which vehicles followed him.
In one encounter, Altheimer called the police for help because a vehicle would not stop following him. In another encounter Altheimer testified someone stopped him, identified himself as a cop, and told him to “get out of the neighborhood.” Altheimer said he later realized the man who stopped him was Josh Harris, a local businessman.
Altheimer began to fidget and audibly tap his fingers on the witness stand as he described his encounter with Troyer on the night of Jan. 27, 2021 around 1:40 a.m.
The 26-year-old said he saw a white SUV three times that night and on the third time, Altheimer said he approached the SUV and, at arm’s-length, asked the driver “why are you following me, are you a cop, and is it because I’m Black?” He said he recognized the driver’s face but didn’t know who he was. He said the driver never answered any of his questions.
“He just talked down to me like I was just lost, I didn’t know where I belonged,” he said. “He accused me of being a porch pirate.”
He said when he left to continue his route, he saw the SUV make a U-turn to follow, and eventually Altheimer stopped to take a picture of the SUV and license plate. That’s when Altheimer said he heard police vehicles coming down the street and he began ranting and yelling.
“I was afraid and frustrated,” Altheimer said.
Altheimer said an officer at the scene told him the driver of the SUV was Sheriff Ed Troyer while questioning him.
When asked why he filed a legal claim for $5 million dollars against the county, Altheimer said “I want a fair trial, I want fair justice. I feel like he should be held accountable for wasting resources and lying.”
State prosecutors prepare to rest their case in criminal trial of Pierce County Sheriff Ed Troyer
State prosecutors are preparing to rest their case today in the criminal trial of Pierce County Sheriff Ed Troyer. He’s charged with misdemeanors after calling 911 dispatchers to report threats from a Black newspaper carrier last year.
The state will call three more witnesses to the stand, including the newspaper carrier: Sedrick Altheimer.
Prosecutors are trying to prove that the sheriff triggered a massive emergency response by reporting a false threat. The defense has argued that Troyer requested only a couple of units to respond when he called dispatchers on an inside line, not 911.
Two dispatchers who testified have pushed back against the defense when questioned about their decision-making that night. Both said they took Troyer’s words seriously when he said that Altheimer had threatened to kill him, and reacted accordingly.
Newspaper distributor testifies, carrier Sedrick Altheimer will take the stand tomorrow
On Monday, Darren Steiner, the owner of the newspaper distribution company that Sedrick Althiemer has contracted with since 2016, testified to the nature of the job.
A former newspaper carrier himself, Steiner said carriers are often stopped by residents because “what we do looks strange.” But usually people are just curious, he said.
Steiner also described Altheimer’s performance as a contractor. He said he's received normal complaints about Altheimer that are typical for carriers, like missed deliveries or wet papers, but nothing more serious than that.
The state plans to call its final three witnesses tomorrow:
• Sedrick Altheimer, the Black newspaper carrier that Troyer claimed threatened to kill him. Altheimer filed a $5 million tort claim against Troyer last year.
• Tacoma Police Officer Chad Lawless, the officer who interviewed Troyer and wrote the report at the center of the case that indicated that Troyer walked back his allegation that Altheimer threatened his life.
• Tacoma Police Officer Grant McCrea
Law enforcement officers who arrived on scene, spoke to Troyer and wrote up an official report testify
Zachary Hobbs, a Tacoma police officer who talked to Pierce County Sheriff Ed Troyer on the night of the confrontation, Jan. 27, 2021, testified on Monday morning.
Hobbs said he’d never heard the “officer needs help” tone in the more than three years he’s worked for the department. He said that distracted him from turning on his body camera immediately.
“That’s all I was thinking about, was getting to the scene and giving them assistance,” Hobbs said. The cameras were new and weren’t “muscle memory” yet.
Hobbs testified that he talked to Troyer at the scene and Troyer never mentioned a threat or expressed any fear of Altheimer, but Hobbs also said he didn’t ask.
“I just remember him seeming like he was annoyed by the situation.”
Hobbs’ body camera footage of the incident started after he arrived once he realized it wasn’t on. On the footage, Hobbs is captured telling his partner that Troyer first said he was threatened, but when asked again Troyer did not say there was a threat. Hobbs then testified that Troyer never denied being threatened in Hobbs’ presence.
Also on the scene that night was Patrick Parham, a sheriff's deputy who works for the City of University Place, which contracts with the sheriff's department.
Parham is the first Pierce County deputy to testify during the trial. He and his partner, Pierce County Sheriff’s Deputy Ian Beddo, rushed to respond to the “officer needs help” alert. Parham testified the call was downgraded before he arrived, saying they didn’t need any other officers, but he continued to the scene.
Parham said he was simply observing and “did not ask any investigative questions to anyone” because that wasn’t his role. After introducing himself to Troyer, whom he had never met before, and some small talk, Parham left. He said Troyer did not appear afraid.
Tacoma Police Lieutenant Robert Stark, the shift commander who arrived at the scene, testified he stayed on the scene for less than 10 minutes and decided with his immediate supervisor that a report should be written about the incident.
“We thought it would be in the department’s best interest to actually write an official report,” Stark said. “Just in case something came about it later on.”
Retired Pierce County Sheriff’s Office Sergeant Mike Blair said he responded to the “officer needs help” alert because “my understanding was there was someone that showed up at his house and was threatening him and they were kind of boxed in with each other and he needed help.”
By the time Blair arrived at the scene, Altheimer had already left, Blair said. He testified he asked Troyer “three or four times” if he wanted a marked patrol car in his driveway that night but Troyer declined. Blair said his lieutenant advised that he should write a report about the incident which he did, documenting his own actions that night.
Blair testified that Troyer later asked him to find out which paper carrier Altheimer worked for. Blair refused because “it was Tacoma’s call, they’d handled it,” he said. “I wouldn’t go into another jurisdiction and initiate an investigation.”
911 dispatcher details response to Troyer's call for assistance
The state called four witnesses this morning and two more this afternoon in the criminal trial against Pierce County Sheriff Ed Troyer.
Among them was Leah Heiberg, the South Sound 911 dispatcher that sent the “officer needs help” tone alerting surrounding Tacoma officers to Troyer’s call for assistance. Heiberg described her state of mind after learning of Troyer’s call.
“All I had was that someone was threatening to kill Troyer,” Heiberg said. “Initially, I was shocked. It’s not very common that calls like this happen… and from working with Troyer for the past six years, I was scared for him.”
She said she’s only ever activated the "officer needs help" alert around three times in the six years she’s been a dispatcher. Heiberg became visibly upset on the stand, which she said was a result of recalling the times she’s worked on calls that ended with officers wounded or killed.
She said 43 patrol vehicles from multiple jurisdictions responded to the call, including vehicles from University Place, the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department, Tacoma Police Department, Washington State Patrol, Tribal police, Fife, Sumner, Orting, and Buckley. The first officers who arrived on the scene downgraded the call once they got there. Heiberg testified they unit said they only needed one more additional unit to continue.
Heiberg said she eventually saw the information that Troyer had only requested one or two units to respond but by that time, “we were way past that point.”
During cross-examination, the defense brought up a review written by Heiberg’s supervisor about how Heiberg handled the incident. Troyer's lawyer, Anne Bremner, read from the report. It said Heiberg and her supervisor “reviewed how her (Heiberg’s) choice of words caused the confusion.”
Court reconvenes for second full day of testimony
Court reconvened Monday morning in the criminal trial of Pierce County Sheriff Ed Troyer.
Last week, the jury was seated, opening statements delivered and the first three witnesses took the stand.
First witnesses include dispatcher and officers who responded to Troyer's call
Attorneys questioned their first witnesses in the criminal trial of Pierce County Sheriff Ed Troyer on Thursday. This was the first time the public heard directly from people who responded to a call Troyer made to dispatchers in the middle of the night in late January last year.
Those witnesses included the dispatcher who took the call, one of the first officers on the scene before the call was downgraded, and another officer who responded to the scene with his firearm drawn. Court is in recess until Monday.
State prosecutors and Sheriff Troyer's lawyers deliver opening statements on Wednesday
After a delay, lawyers for the prosecution and defense delivered opening statements on Wednesday, Nov. 30, in the trial of Pierce County Sheriff Ed Troyer.
Initially delayed due to Troyer being ill, jury selection took about four and a half days and concluded on Wednesday afternoon. When opening statements began, the courtroom was opened to the public. Courtroom proceedings can also be watched via a livestream.
Pierce County Sheriff Ed Troyer plans to take the stand in his own defense
State prosecutors said they are prepared to prove that Pierce County Sheriff Ed Troyer committed crimes when he contacted 911 dispatchers last year and reported an emergency that did not exist: that the newspaper carrier, Sedrick Altheimer, had threatened to kill him.
An audio recording of the call captured Troyer saying he was threatened, but records show he walked that back when questioned by Tacoma police. Troyer’s attorney Anne Bremner disputed those facts, and said the evidence will tell a different story. She also revealed on Wednesday that Troyer plans to take the stand in his own defense.
The officers who responded and downgraded the 911 call will also testify. Court resumes this morning.
Jury selected, opening statements delivered as Troyer trial moves forward
Attorneys have delivered their opening statements in the criminal trial of Pierce County Sheriff Ed Troyer. The state attorney general has charged Troyer with misdemeanors stemming from a confrontation with a Black newspaper carrier last year.
The state says they can prove that Troyer made a false report that he was threatened. The defense believes the evidence will be on their side.
The district court trial has a jury of six with four alternates. The group appears to be majority male and white, with three women and two people of color.
Jury selection surfaces polarizing views of policing
As jury selection continued on Tuesday, comments from potential jurors highlighted polarizing views of policing and power.
Juror No. 57 told a story about sheriff's deputies killing his nephew 4-5 years ago. He said his nephew had problems with drugs and mental health, and appeared to attack deputies with a chainsaw when they responded to a call. He said he does not have animosity toward the department. He also said he was surprised Troyer is still sheriff and wrote in his questionnaire that he "abused his power."
That juror was excused for cause – meaning for a specific reason such as bias or a connection that would prevent someone from being impartial.
Juror No. 59 said she has a mom who is pro-police and supportive of Troyer, and close friends who are in the "ACAB" and "defund police" crowd. Defense wanted her excused, but Judge Jahns denied it.
Juror No. 64 supported Troyer for sheriff. He seemed to have strong opinions about police: "In Washington we have tied the hands of law enforcement."
He also stated he thinks "the attorney general is making a political statement" by bringing this case to court.
The state challenged this juror. They said putting a sign in his yard for Troyer's campaign, which he did, shows a strong level of support and affects his impartiality. Judge Jahns denied challenge.
Juror No. 76, a Black man, was one of only a few people of color who have been part of this large pool. He talked in no uncertain terms about his opinions on Troyer: he said he shouldn't be sheriff and that what he did was wrong. Judge Jahns said he can't be impartial, he was excused.
A recent episode of The Walk Home podcast, co-produced by KNKX and The Seattle Times, titled "Pierce County, USA" goes deeper into this community and the conflicting worldviews that residents have been drawn to in recent years.
Jury may be seated today, opening statements delayed another day
After interviewing jurors all day Monday, jury selection continues. KNKX South Sound reporter Kari Plog is back at court this morning.
The influence of media coverage surrounding the trial continues to be a key topic among potential jurors.
On Tuesday morning, Juror No. 44 talked about the media coverage he's seen of the case. He said if what he heard is true, then Sheriff Troyer put the newspaper carrier in danger. The defense tried to have him excused. Judge Jeffrey Jahns determined the "if, then" language signaled he could put those prior opinions aside.
The day before, two jurors were excused for cause after expressing bias both in support and against Sheriff Troyer. They each cited what they'd seen in media coverage.
Juror No. 25, the last one before Monday's lunch recess, was a former News Tribune reporter. He consumed a lot of media on this case. The defense wanted him excused for cause. The state prosecutors thought he could be impartial. Judge Jahns disagreed and said Juror No. 25 had formed opinions that he couldn't set aside.
Juror No. 23 expressed what the defense argued were negative views toward police. They asked to excuse the juror for cause. The state challenged it, and the judge sided with them. He said she also expressed that she can put those views aside.
Opening statements are now scheduled for 8:45 a.m. on Wednesday. Judge Jahns believes they will have a jury by the end of Tuesday.
With a public figure on trial, potential jurors unable to remain impartial
Juror No. 1, who previously said he likes Pierce County Sheriff Ed Troyer because of what he's seen in the media of him, said he would vote for Troyer even after seeing any evidence presented.
"I've already made up my mind, I'm on his side," he said.
Juror No. 1 was officially excused for cause, meaning for a specific reason such as bias or a connection that would prevent someone from being impartial.
Juror No. 8 said she thinks it would be difficult for her to be impartial, though she would try. She has consumed a lot of media coverage about this case.
"It feels like I've already come to a conclusion in my head."
Unsurprisingly, Juror No. 8 was also excused for cause.
The panel will ultimately be narrowed to six jurors, as is standard in district court. They aim to wrap up jury selection today and begin opening statements tomorrow.
Pierce County Sheriff Ed Troyer appears in court as jury selection resumes
Court is back in session in the trial of Pierce County Sheriff Ed Troyer, who is present today as they aim to wrap up jury selection. As of now, opening statements are scheduled for tomorrow after delays because Troyer was sick.
During questioning, Juror No. 1 says he likes Sheriff Troyer because of what he's seen in the media of him. Cites the Josh Powell case and the murder of four Lakewood police officers. State is asking questions about potential bias because of that opinion of the sheriff.
The juror also has concerns about COVID. It's his main driver for not wanting to participate. The defense is asking questions about potential accommodations to address those concerns.
Pierce County provides public livestream
If you're interested in watching the livestream, a trial timeline, public documents, etc. trial information is available on the Pierce County website.
Troyer trial faces early delays
The criminal trial for Pierce County Sheriff Ed Troyer is already facing delays.
Jury selection started Monday, but proceedings in the afternoon were canceled after the court learned that Troyer was ill.
Jurors were already at the courthouse and the judge was preparing to hand out questionnaires — to start whittling down the pool — when the court learned Troyer was sick. Troyer’s attorney Anne Bremner said he had taken two rapid COVID tests: the first one returned a faint positive result, the second was negative.
Judge Jeffrey Jahns, a visiting judge from Kitsap County, ordered Troyer to take a PCR test to confirm his COVID status. Later, on Tuesday, the court learned Troyer was positive for the flu, not COVID. His attorneys provided evidence of the results ahead of the judge’s ruling.
Troyer wants to attend the jury selection proceedings, and Jahns stressed that he has a right to be there. His attorneys said he was feeling worse Tuesday, but they expected he could be better by Monday, Nov. 28.
That’s when jury selection will continue, with the goal of finalizing the jury panel by the end of the day. That was originally when opening statements were scheduled to start. Now, those have been pushed to next Tuesday, Nov. 29. That could change, depending on how jury selection proceeds.
On Tuesday, the court dismissed 17 of 75 potential jurors. The pool will eventually be narrowed to six, as is standard in district court.
The jury will decide whether Troyer broke the law when he called 911 on a Black newspaper carrier in January last year. He’s charged with misdemeanors. The trial is expected to last a couple weeks.
Jury selection begins for Pierce County Sheriff Ed Troyer's criminal trial
Jury selection began Monday, Nov. 22, in the criminal trial of Pierce County Sheriff Ed Troyer. He is charged with false reporting and making a false or misleading statement to a public servant.
The misdemeanor charges stem from a confrontation between Troyer and Black newspaper carrier Sedrick Altheimer, early last year. Altheimer was working his regular delivery route, in Troyer's Tacoma neighborhood, on Jan. 27 of last year when Troyer began following him in his car around 2 a.m.
Altheimer said he approached the car to find out why he was being followed. Troyer called 911 and reported that he caught someone in his driveway who had threatened to kill him. The call alerted more than 40 law enforcement officers from agencies across the county, and more than a dozen arrived at the scene.
Records show that Troyer later walked back his initial claim that Altheimer had threatened him. If convicted of both offenses, the sheriff could be sentenced to up to 364 days in jail and fined up to $5,000 dollars. KNKX South Sound reporter Kari Plog will be covering the trial.
It’s unclear if a conviction would have any bearing over Troyer’s role as sheriff. State law requires immediate forfeiture of office if an elected official is convicted of a felony. Troyer’s charges are misdemeanors. But that forfeiture also extends to any founded claims of so-called “malfeasance in office,” the definition of which is murky.
Immediately after charges were filed, an independent report authored by former U.S. Attorney Brian Moran found that Troyer had violated his department’s policies. Moran wrote that Troyer was untruthful and exhibited “improper bias” when he called 911 on Altheimer. The report said it’s “not hyperbole” that the newspaper carrier, while surrounded by police, could have been “an unintentional or misperceived gesture away from serious harm or worse.”
All of this has called Troyer’s credibility into question — landing him on Pierce County’s “list of recurring witnesses with potential impeachment information,” also known as the Brady list.