Sunday, April 20, 2014

Hearing against man accused of murdering officer still months away

By Emiley Morgan, Deseret News

Published: Tue, Dec. 3 10:21 p.m. MST

 Timothy Troy Walker, 35, has been charged with aggravated murder in the Sept. 1 shooting death of Draper Police Sgt. Derek Johnson.

Timothy Troy Walker, 35, has been charged with aggravated murder in the Sept. 1 shooting death of Draper Police Sgt. Derek Johnson.

(Salt Lake County Jail)

WEST JORDAN — It will be at least two months before a hearing is even scheduled to present evidence against a man accused of shooting and killing a Draper police sergeant.

During a court appearance Tuesday, prosecutors requested that a preliminary hearing against Timothy Troy Walker, 34, be scheduled for May. But attorneys for the man, who is charged with aggravated murder in the death of Draper Police Sgt. Derek Johnson, indicated that they couldn't commit to being ready to have the hearing six months from now.

"I have no problem whatsoever setting a (preliminary hearing) in May, but I've indicated to the state that I would consider that a soft setting," defense attorney Denise Porter told 3rd District Judge Mark Kouris. "We're nowhere near — this case is 90 days old."

She said defense attorneys were still waiting to receive the evidence in the case and working their way through thousands of documents. She said her client is also scheduled to undergo another surgery.

In addition to aggravated murder, Walker is also charged with five felony firearms violations in connection with the Sept. 1 death. Johnson stopped to assist a vehicle involved in an apparent crash near 132 S. Fort Street.

Prosecutors contend that Walker and his girlfriend, Traci Vaillancourt, were in the vehicle and that Walker fired at Johnson through the open passenger window and continued to shoot as the officer attempted to drive away. Vaillancourt was shot in the back during the incident and Walker turned the gun on himself.

Both were critically wounded. Johnson was killed.

Though his jaw was still wired Tuesday, Walker was able to communicate with the judge. Prosecutor Vince Meister said that while he understood medical issues may come up, he still felt Walker was able to communicate well enough to allow the case to proceed.

Kouris ultimately decided to set another scheduling conference in the case for February, but kept open the possibility of setting a preliminary hearing for May.

Vaillancourt, who was charged with two counts of obstruction of justice, a second-degree felony, also appeared in court Tuesday. Her attorney, Matthew Kober, said they set another scheduling conference in the case for Jan. 14.

He said defense attorneys and prosecutors discussed how to proceed in the case, including the possibility of a plea deal or continuing to trial.

"We met with prosecutors for a long time to discuss both those options," Kober said. "There are a lot of variables at this point in the game."

He said they are going through the evidence and will be making more "substantive decisions" at the January hearing.

Email: emorgan@deseretnews.com

Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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1. DN Subscriber 2
SLC, UT,
Dec. 3, 2013

Although the right to a fair trial is something to be protected, it is obscene to see the gyrations used by some defense attorneys to drag out the process and delay trials and sentencing.

Justice delayed is justice denied.

It is maddening to listen to the myriad excuses that come up in cases like this about the "alleged" killer having been abused as a kid, or was addled by drug abuse (by their own hands), or other excuses.

Worst of all, we taxpayers are paying (at hourly at rates few normal people would ever receive) for the people who are dragging this out. Is that for the benefit of the accused, or some other less noble motive--- after all we are dealing with lawyers here.

Let's expedite this case and get the facts before a jury and wait for their verdict.