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Ex-cop who shot at officers will avoid jury trial

Change of plea hearing for Troy A. Wilson, 45, set for next week

Posted: March 27, 2013 - 1:19pm  |  Updated: March 28, 2013 - 12:11am
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This file photo shows Troy Wilson as Alaska State Trooper Al Fenumiai, left, leads Wilson into Juneau District Court for his arraignment last year.  Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File
Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File
This file photo shows Troy Wilson as Alaska State Trooper Al Fenumiai, left, leads Wilson into Juneau District Court for his arraignment last year.

The former Juneau Police Department lieutenant who opened fire on police officers when they responded to his house for a 911 call last spring will avoid a jury trial.

Court records show Troy A. Wilson, 45, will be changing his plea in Juneau Superior Court next week. The hearing is set to take place Wednesday, April 3 before Judge Philip Pallenberg.

Citing ethics rules that preclude them from talking about the case to media, both District Attorney David Brower and Wilson’s attorney Julie Willoughby declined to comment for this article. It remains unknown at this time the charges to which Wilson will be plead, or what kind of plea agreement has been reached between the parties.

Wilson, a 17-year JPD veteran and former SWAT instructor, is facing a total of 22 charges for attempted murder, assault, weapons misconduct and criminal mischief for the April 7-8 incident last Easter weekend.

Prosecutors said Wilson barricaded himself in his house and fired about 75 to 100 shots at responding police officers with high-powered rifles and handguns. He surrendered after about five hours, and no one was injured during the incident, although prosecutors said bullets struck two nearby houses, a parked truck and a police vehicle.

JPD officers originally responded to his house on Black Wolf Way after receiving a 911 call from Wilson’s wife, who reported her husband was drunk, suicidal and had a gun.

Charging documents alleged that during the standoff, police tried to negotiate with him over the phone and that Wilson vowed to “kill the world” and threatened “to hunt down and kill” the police chief and other JPD officers, according to an affidavit filed by Brower.

In pretrial motions, Willoughby attacked the state’s theory of attempted murder, shedding light on holes in the state’s case and previewing her defense for trial. She argued the state “far overcharged” Wilson by bringing the six attempted murder charges since each of those counts entails having the specific intent to kill the particular officer identified in each count.

Moving to dismiss the indictment — a motion that will be deemed moot if the change of plea hearing takes place as scheduled — Willoughby argued in part that Wilson was in a suicidal state of mind, not homicidal, and that he was shooting randomly from his house, not at a specific person. She added that if he wanted to shoot someone, he could have, especially since he was the most highly trained member of the SWAT team and had trained most of the officers who responded to his home.

“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 or night vision goggles as he had claimed during standoff negotiations. “... If he had intended to shoot someone, he had the skill to do what he intended. 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 (to the grand jury).”

Before the change of plea hearing was scheduled, Willoughby gave notice to the court that her client rely on the defense of intoxication at trial to negate the culpable mental state allegation that Wilson intentionally attempted to murder the six officers named in the indictment. Wilson had a .188 breath alcohol level when he was taken into custody, Willoughby wrote.

She also filed a notice signaling she would call an expert at trial who would testify that Wilson was incapable of shooting at the officers intentionally because of intoxication and severe chronic depression.

Now that a change of plea hearing has been scheduled, also moot is Willoughby’s request for a hearing to review the personnel and internal files of the police officers who are named as victims in the shooting and who also investigated the case afterward. Willoughby had argued a review of those files would determine whether the dual victims/investigating officers had “biases, prejudices or ulterior motives” against her client.

Wilson had resigned from JPD about four months prior to the shooting as he was under investigation for off-duty behavior that allegedly violated JPD policy and procedure. JPD never disclosed what that behavior was, or the result of their investigation. Wilson most recently worked as a juvenile probation officer for the state of Alaska’s Division of Juvenile Justice.

He was originally slated to stand trial in December, then January, but both those trial dates were postponed due to the large amount of discovery and lengthy pretrial litigation.

Wilson is currently still being held at Lemon Creek Correctional Center on $1 million bond.

Contact reporter Emily Russo Miller at 523-2263 or at emily.miller@juneauempire.com.

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