TACOMA, Wash. — Testimony resumed Thursday in the criminal trial of Pierce County Sheriff Ed Troyer.
Troyer faces two misdemeanor charges after he allegedly claimed on an officer line to 911 dispatch that Sedrick Altheimer, a newspaper carrier, threatened to kill him in January 2021.
The trial is now on its 10th day.
Wendy Troyer, who is Troyer's wife, was brought back on the stand Thursday to share what she experienced the night of the confrontation.
She said she was awoken by Troyer while he was on the phone following the confrontation and that he was upset. She said she felt threatened and scared when she heard the yelling in the driveway.
On Wednesday, Wendy spoke about the impact of the trial on their family and said she wants it to end.
Former county council candidate Josh Harris also took the stand Thursday morning. Harris detailed an encounter he had with Altheimer in December 2020.
Harris testified he witnessed a vehicle in his neighborhood pulling in and out of driveways, with its headlights on and off. Harris confronted the driver of the vehicle, who was later identified as Altheimer. Harris said Altheimer told Harris to "mind your own business."
The confrontation allegedly came to a head when Harris asked Altheimer to pull his hand out from his sweater because Harris felt Altheimer may be carrying a gun. Altheimer then pulled a newspaper out from under his sweater, threw it on a neighbor's porch and said, "I'm delivering the newspaper."
Troyer takes the stand
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” Altheimer in his driveway and “he just threatened to kill me,” according to probable cause documents.
Troyer retracted those statements when police arrived.
Troyer took the stand Thursday to explain what happened from his perspective. He said on Jan. 27, 2021 he heard noises and saw a car parked outside his home with the lights off. That concerned him, he said, because of recent crimes in the area.
Troyer said he saw the car drive away with no lights - or just parking lights - on the wrong side of the road before pulling into a neighbor's driveway.
Troyer said he decided to investigate once he saw the car enter yet another driveway.
A few blocks away, Troyer said he pulled up behind the vehicle. He was unaware of the driver's race, sex, or how many people were in the vehicle at the time, he said. According to Troyer, Altheimer was visibly upset and yelling.
Troyer said he requested for one or two police units to assist.
Troyer said Altheimer never told him he was a newspaper carrier and that he learned that from responding officers.
Motion to dismiss
The defense also argued a motion to dismiss the charges Thursday. The defense argued Troyer could not have made a false reporting or misleading statement because he didn't call 911 to make a report. They said he called an officer line to dispatch arguing Troyer only requested a couple of units to respond to the incident in an official capacity and that the dispatchers acted independently when they deployed additional units, creating the emergency response.
The state counter-argued that it was irrelevant which number Troyer called and that he still made the statement that led to the emergency response. The state also argued that it is up to the jury to determine if Troyer's statements were false or not.
The motion to dismiss is expected to be picked back up when trial proceedings continue on Monday.
On Monday, SouthSound 911 Dispatcher Leah Heiberg, Darren Steiner, who owns the newspaper distribution company that contracts Altheimer, and Tacoma Police Officer Zachary Hobbs, who spoke with Troyer at the scene, testified.
On Tuesday, Altheimer testified to what happened on Jan. 27, saying he never made threats to the sheriff.
Chad Lawless, the Tacoma police officer who spoke with Troyer at the scene of the 2021 confrontation, also testified in court Wednesday.
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.