Former police lieutenant Troy A. Wilson pleaded guilty Wednesday to seven felonies for shooting at Juneau Police Department officers last Easter as they responded to a 911 call at his house.
Surrounded by eight family members and friends in the courtroom, Wilson entered into a plea deal that leaves sentencing up to the court. He will not be sentenced until July.
“Guilty, your honor,” Wilson said steadily, sitting shackled next to his attorney at the defendant’s table as the judge asked how he pleaded to each of the amended charges.
The 17-year JPD veteran and former SWAT instructor was originally facing a total of 22 felony charges, including attempted murder, for barricading himself in his house and firing 75 to 100 shots from high-powered rifles and handguns at officers and their vehicles. No one was injured during the incident, and Wilson surrendered after about five hours, early Easter morning, April 8, 2012.
On Wednesday, he admitted to three class ‘B’ felonies and four class ‘C’ felonies: one count of first-degree attempted assault for discharging a firearm at multiple police officers; two counts of second-degree weapons misconduct for discharging a firearm at a dwelling; three counts of third-degree assault for placing six other officers in fear of serious physical injury; and one count of third-degree criminal mischief for damaging a JPD vehicle and a neighbor’s pickup truck.
Since ‘B’ felonies can carry up to 10 years in prison and ‘C’ felonies, five, the maximum possible penalty Wilson could face for the seven convictions by statute is 50 years. Prosecutors, however, as part of the plea deal, agreed to ask for no more than 20 years to serve. The plea deal also dismisses the attempted murder charges along with the other remaining charges.
The deal also called for Wilson to admit three sentencing aggravators for placing three or more persons at risk of imminent physical injury, for the seriousness of the crime and for knowing that the victims in the crime were law enforcement officers engaged in the performance of duty.
Juneau Superior Court Judge Philip Pallenberg agreed to set off sentencing until July 18 and 19 to allow a probation officer more time to pen a pre-sentence report. Pallenberg will decide whether to accept the plea deal and will impose a sentence during that hearing.
Police said JPD officers originally responded to Wilson’s 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.
During phone negotiations, Wilson vowed to “kill the world” and threatened “to hunt down and kill” the police chief and other JPD officers as they surrounded his home, according to an affidavit filed by District Attorney David Brower.
Wilson surrendered without police returning fire, JPD said. Prosecutors said the bullets struck two nearby houses, a parked truck and a police vehicle.
Wilson’s defense attorney Julie Willoughby said in pretrial motions that her client was drunk with a .188 breath alcohol level when he was taken into custody and that he has “severe chronic depression,” a condition the police department long knew about, Willoughby alleged.
Wilson, 46, 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. JPD Chief Greg Browning, who is retiring next month, told the Empire in a recent interview about his career in law enforcement that he could not comment on the case since it’s still open, and also because it is a personnel matter. While discussing the high pressures of the job of police chief, though, he did express relief at the fact that Wilson was not employed by the JPD at the time.
“Of course it could have been a lot worse if he was a current lieutenant — if you notice he wasn’t a current lieutenant, he was an ex-lieutenant,” Browning said.
Wilson worked as a juvenile probation officer for the state of Alaska’s Division of Juvenile Justice at the time of his arrest.
Wilson’s friends and family, who have sometimes appeared in court for hearings as the case has progressed over the past year, have remained silent about the incident. They again did not comment after Wednesday’s hearing.
The sole exception was one of Wilson’s longtime friends, George Davidson, who simply said about the incident, “Troy was a great guy. Something definitely went wrong.”
Three JPD officers were also in the courtroom listening in on Wednesday’s hearing. They also declined to comment.
Wilson remains in custody at Lemon Creek Correctional Center on $1 million bail.
• Contact reporter Emily Russo Miller at 523-2263 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.