TACOMA, Wash. — Opening statements in the criminal trial of Pierce County Sheriff Ed Troyer were given Wednesday afternoon.
Troyer faces two misdemeanor charges after he allegedly claimed a Black newspaper carrier threatened to kill him on an officer line to 911 dispatch in January of 2021. He retracted those statements when police arrived.
Tuesday afternoon, the defense and the prosecution questioned the jury pool to select a fair and impartial jury. The final panel consists of six jurors and four alternates.
Jury selection wrapped up on Wednesday.
During opening statements, Assistant Attorney General Barbara A. Serrano said the evidence clearly shows Troyer made false claims to police that night, and that although Sedrick Altheimer was used to being questioned due to his job as a newspaper carrier, that night was much different.
“It’s not uncommon for newspaper carriers to be questioned because of the way they drive,” Serrano said. “They crisscross streets, moving from house to house. But what Mr. Althiemer experienced on this night in late January 2021 went way beyond anything he had experienced before. Ed Troyer turned his experiences into something much bigger.”
Meanwhile, Troyer’s attorney, Anne Bremner, disputed the state’s claims, stating that it was just a misunderstanding between Troyer and Altheimer.
Bremner went on to allege that Altheimer yelled “I’ll take you out” to Troyer, alleging that Troyer interpreted the statement as a death threat.
“Somebody else said that phrase, and that was President Biden,” Bremner said. “When he talked about killing a terrorist. During the press conference, he said if you basically mess with the US, we will take you out, just like we took out that terrorist. And we killed them.”
Bremner also brought up Altheimer’s civil case as a possible motive for this trial.
“Anybody that has a financial interest in a case, whether it’s five million, more or less, has a financial bias to win, or win so to speak, in a criminal case,” she said.
On Tuesday, the state shared a concern with the judge after learning Troyer contacted a retired deputy who is a potential witness on the prosecution's list. Troyer's defense lawyer said she was at fault and had asked Troyer to contact the man to confirm his phone number.
The judge cautioned the defense about the incident.
On Jan. 27, 2021, Troyer called 911 on a line used by law enforcement to gather routine information and requests and said that he “caught” newspaper carrier Altheimer in his driveway and “he just threatened to kill me,” according to probable cause documents.
When questioned during Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson's investigation into the incident, officers who responded to the scene said Troyer told them Altheimer didn't make any threats and he did not observe any weapons on him.
Troyer faces one charge of false reporting and one charge of making a false or misleading statement to a public servant. Troyer pleaded not guilty to the charges in October 2021.