The ex-Juneau police officer charged with attempted murder wants the indictment against him dismissed, citing due process and equal protection rights violations, according to court records.
Defense attorney Julie Willoughby said the grand jury that indicted her client, Troy A. Wilson, was not properly instructed on the law applicable to the case, according to a motion Willoughby filed last month.
In the Nov. 20 motion, which is 37 pages long, Willoughby said the indictment had numerous flaws, the most basic of which was that grand jurors were not informed of the standard of proof required to issue the indictment.
“This lack of appropriate legal guidance by the state is so significant the entire indictment should be dismissed,” Willoughby argued.
A grand jury indicted Wilson, 45, on six counts of attempted murder in the first degree for shooting at police officers the night of April 7. Wilson was also indicted on assault and weapons misconduct charges. The indictment — alleging a total of 22 crimes in all — was handed up April 20.
Prosecutors say Wilson barricaded himself in his home on Black Wolf Way for several hours and fired off 75 to 100 rounds at officers and their vehicles using high-powered rifles and handguns, according to the original affidavit. He surrendered a little before 3 a.m. April 8, Easter morning.
JPD did not return fire, according to police. No one was injured in the incident, but bullets struck two nearby houses, a parked truck, and a police vehicle, according to prosecutors.
When the state presented the case to the grand jury, prosecutors failed to inform the jurors that a burden of proof exists when considering whether or not to issue the indictment, Willoughby argued.
The burden of proof to return an indictment is that, “The grand jury shall find an indictment when all the evidence taken together, if unexplained or uncontradicted, would warrant a conviction of the defendant,” according to Alaska criminal code, Willoughby cites.
“In this case the prosecutor did not instruct the grand jury on any standard at all,” Willoughby wrote.
She said that means Wilson was denied a fair grand jury hearing, which is a violation of due process rights under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution as well as the Article 1, Sections 1 and 7 of the Alaska Constitution, Willoughby said.
Willoughby also argues that the state “far overcharged” Wilson by bringing the six attempted murder charges. Additionally the state failed to instruct the grand jurors on the elements of that crime and failed to present evidence to support those elements, Willoughby argued.
The elements of attempted murder entail having specific intent to kill the particular person identified in each count of attempted murder, Willoughby said.
“Mr. Wilson did not know who was outside his house; he did not know how many officers were outside his house; and he did not know where those officers were even positioned,” Willoughby wrote, noting Wilson did not have a police radio in his home during the standoff.
Police initially responded to Wilson’s home that night after receiving a 911 call from Wilson’s wife, who said he was suicidal and had a gun. Wilson’s wife, who is identified in court documents as Julie L. Wilson and who also filed for divorce last month, fled to a neighbor’s house at the beginning of the five-hour-long standoff, police said.
A JPD detective crisis negotiator stayed on the phone with Wilson for about four and a half hours, wherein he threatened members of the police department and shot off rounds, according to prosecutors.
Willoughby argued Wilson’s state of mind was suicidal rather than homicidal, pointing to the 911 call and the fact that several police officers interviewed said they thought it was a “suicide by cop” situation.
Willoughby gave notice that her client would be relying on the defense of intoxication to negate the culpable mental state allegation that Wilson “intentionally” attempted to murder the six named officers in the indictment.
When Wilson was taken into custody, he had a .188 breath alcohol level, according to a portable breath test administered at the scene by an officer, Willoughby wrote.
Willoughby noted that some general threats Wilson made ended up being untrue. For example, Wilson claimed he had night-vision goggles to see the officers, but when police searched his house, they didn’t find any. They did find a rifle with a scope on it though, according to the motion.
Willoughby argued Wilson was shooting randomly from his house, not at a specific person. Police recovered 76 pistol casings and 13 rifle casings from his house the next day, according to the motion.
Willoughby also argued Wilson’s skills as a designated sniper for the JPD SWAT team should have been explained in more depth to the grand jurors. Wilson was a 17-year JPD veteran and had trained most of the officers who were on duty that night and responded to his house. He had been the squad leader for and the most highly trained member of the SWAT team, Willoughby wrote.
“What was not explained is that if he had intended to shoot someone, he had the skill to do what he intended,” Willoughby wrote. “The fact that no one was hurt speaks volumes to his state of mind. This is one of the missing pieces that should have been explained.”
Wilson resigned from the JPD in December as he was under investigation for off-duty behavior that allegedly violated JPD policy and procedure, according to the department. JPD spokespeople have not disclosed what the behavior was, but did say it was associated with a psychological condition for which he was receiving treatment. The result of the JPD investigation was also never disclosed.
Willoughby said in her motion that JPD knew of Wilson’s “suicidal propensities long before this incident.” Willoughby also questioned why JPD investigated the incident, instead of a neutral party, such as the Alaska State Troopers.
She requested the court review the personnel and internal office files of the police officers who were victims in the case and also investigated the case. She said that review would determine whether those records contain information regarding “biases, prejudices or ulterior motives” of the investigating officers.
She requested a hearing be held to make an offer of proof of why that review is necessary.
She requested the hearing be closed to the public and press, saying, “The nature of the offer of proof that Mr. Wilson would make at the ex parte hearing is of a sensitive nature concerning the Juneau Police Department and warrants a closed proceeding.”
Willoughby also filed a notice that she intends to call an expert at Wilson’s trial who can testify that Wilson was incapable of shooting at the officers intentionally because of intoxication and severe chronic depression.
Willoughby wrote that the depression was a condition that was known, but “improperly treated and exacerbated, if not caused, by incidents and events related to Mr. Wilson’s employment with the Juneau Police Department.”
At the time of his arrest, Wilson worked as a juvenile probation officer for the state of Alaska’s Division of Juvenile Justice.
Wilson remains in custody at Lemon Creek Correctional Center on $1 million bond, and his trial is tentatively slated for January 2013.
• Contact reporter Emily Russo Miller at 523-2263 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.