TACOMA, Wash. — Jury selection in the trial of Pierce County Sheriff Ed Troyer will resume next week after Troyer’s health kept him out of the courtroom, prompting his lawyers to ask the judge to delay proceedings.
Troyer is charged with two misdemeanors over a confrontation he allegedly initiated with a Black newspaper carrier in January 2021.
The judge ordered Troyer to take a PCR COVID-19 test Monday after he took two rapid tests, one of which had a faint line of positivity. The PCR test results were negative. However, Troyer’s attorneys said Tuesday that he was diagnosed with Influenza A and he was staying out of the courtroom for safety.
Troyer’s attorneys stood firm on their request to hold off court proceedings, because Troyer has a right to be present. However, prosecutors insisted on moving forward in the jury selection process, worried about the trial timeline.
“We were concerned when this date was set,” said Assistant Attorney General Melanie Tratnik. “There's not a lot of wiggle room at all in this schedule."
The prosecution also expressed concerns about getting secondhand updates on Troyer’s health.
"We don't have any access to Mr. Troyer, and we're just having to take this information at face value about how he's feeling,” Tratnik said.
The court moved forward Tuesday with juror questionnaires without Troyer in the courtroom. The process was livestreamed, and Troyer was able to watch it online. His attorneys said they are in constant electronic communication with him.
During Tuesday’s proceedings, 17 jurors were excused due to hardship.
The court will be in recess until Monday when individual voir dire can get underway. That's where the defense and the prosecution will determine which jurors can be fair and impartial.
The decision has delayed the trial by more than a day. Under the original timeline, jury selection was supposed to wrap up Wednesday, and opening statements were expected to happen Monday, Nov. 28. Closing arguments were originally anticipated on Dec. 8.
Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson charged Troyer in October 2021 with one count of false reporting and one count of making a false or misleading statement to a public servant. Troyer has pleaded not guilty.
In January 2021, Troyer allegedly called an officer line to 911 dispatch claiming the newspaper carrier, Sedrick Altheimer, threatened to kill him, causing more than 40 officers to initially rush to his location. When police arrived on scene, Troyer walked those statements back.