Former Juneau Police Lieutenant Troy Wilson was sentenced in Juneau Superior Court on Friday to 25-years in prison with 16-years suspended, or nine-years to serve.
Wilson had pled guilty to multiple charges of assault, misconduct involving weapons, and criminal mischief in connection with an incident on Easter weekend last year. Wilson was intoxicated and suicidal, and fired at several of his former colleagues from his residence on Black Wolf Way.
At the start of the forty-five minute continuation of Wilson’s sentencing on Friday, Superior Court Judge Philip Pallenberg compared the case to Juneau and Hoonah police officers who were gunned down by mentally disturbed individuals. He was not convinced that Wilson intentionally missed his targets.
Depending on your point of view, it was either dumb luck or the grace of God that nobody was hit or killed. What would’ve happened if somebody had been hit or killed, one of those officers was killed?”
Judge Pallenberg is sure that prosecutors would have sought first degree murder charges that would carry a mandatory 99-year sentence for killing a police officer.
In this instance, prosecutors wanted Wilson to be sentenced to as much as 35-years with 15-years suspended, or 20-years to serve.
Judge Pallenberg considered Thursday’s testimony of a psychiatrist, Wilson, and Wilson’s wife who described his alcoholism and depression.
There are factors that bode well for Mr. Wilson’s rehabilitation. He has a long and — at least until the end — a stable work history. He has a long — and until the end — stable marriage. He has a huge number of people who believe in him, who think that he can be successful, people who know him well.”
Pallenberg acknowledged that some people may not be satisified with the sentence, including those Juneau police officers who were fired upon last year. But he said he was bound by the presumptive ranges for each crime, and he expressed concerns that any prison time exceeding ten years could be successfully challenged at the Alaska Court of Appeals.
For example, a first degree attempted assault charge (the most serious charge that Wilson faced after his plea agreement) is a Class B felony that carries a maximum of ten-years with a presumptive range of one- to three-years for a first offender.
Three aggravating factors could allow the judge to go beyond the presumptive range in this case. They include the defendant creating an imminent risk to three or more persons, most serious conduct, and conduct against law enforcement officers.
Judge Pallenberg referred to Alaska Supreme Court case law that’s been the basis for composite sentencing.
The composite term of incarceration may not exceed the maximum term for the most serious offense unless the judge specifically finds that the longer sentence is necessarily to protect the public. The defendant must be isolated during that period of time to protect the public.”
Judge Pallenberg said he considered Wilson’s prospects for rehabilitation and his past history as a positive member of the community for not going over the ten-years. He also compared Wilson to others who may have had multiple felony convictions or may not be amenable to treatment.
For the sentence of attempted assault in the first degree, Pallenberg sentenced Wilson to ten-years with four-years suspended. For each of the two counts of second degree misconduct involving weapons, Wilson was sentenced to five-years with two-years suspended. For each of the three counts of third degree assault, Wilson was sentenced to four-years with two-years suspended. And for third degree criminal mischief, he was sentenced to three-years with two-years suspended.
The time to serve for the charges of assault and misconduct involving weapons will all run concurrently. For each of the assault charges, one year of the time to serve will run consecutively with attempted assault sentence. The criminal mischief sentence will run concurrently.
Wilson was ordered to serve ten-years on probation and he is prohibited from consuming alcohol, or prescription drugs without permission of his probation officer. Judge Pallenberg also ordered Wilson to wear a device that monitored his consumption of alcohol even though such devices are not currently or readily available in the Juneau area.
Wilson was also ordered to undergo any recommended substance abuse treatment, and he must undergo a psychiatric, psychological, or mental health evaluation and participate in any counseling or treatment.
Since he is a former cop, Wilson remains segregated at Lemon Creek Correctional Center or effectively in solitary confinement for 23-hours a day. But such segregation means that he restrict from programs that are normally available to the general population. Pallenberg said he hopes that the Department of Corrections comes up with an alternative arrangement.
Wilson was intoxicated when he threatened suicide the night before Easter last year. During a nearly four-hour standoff, he fired as many as 75 shots at responding officers before he surrendered.
There was some damage to a police vehicle, two nearby residences, and a personal vehicle.
Prosecutors have 90-days to submit a restitution order for the estimated damages.
After a 17-year career, Wilson was forced out of the Juneau Police Department in late 2011 because of his behavior and alcohol abuse. He later took a job with the State of Alaska working in Juvenile Probation.
The incident at his home on Black Wolf Way started on April 7th, 2012. Before he surrendered, he reportedly fired as many as 75 shots at his former colleagues who took up positions around his house.
No one was hurt or killed during the incident.
The judge and attorneys crafted a ‘no contact’ order that allowed those employees of the Juneau Police Department who have been visiting Wilson to continue to do so. Otherwise, he is not to initiate contact with any of the victims of that night’s events.
July 19, 2013, 6:20 am story
It was a remarkable turnabout for Troy Wilson. The former police officer and SWAT commander likely appeared in court many times over his 17-year career, on the witness stand testifying for the prosecution, either in a patrol uniform or in plain clothes with his service weapon at his side and badge on his belt.
It’s kind of ironic now that I sat up here, but I was concerned about my image and I guess my pride got in the way. And arrogance. I didn’t figure anything like this could ever happen to me. Even with the drinking, I would never have thought that I would be here.”
He said that prevented him from asking for the help that he needed to avoid his most recent appearance on the witness stand on Thursday. This time he appeared in court as a defendant while dressed in prison-issued orange top and pants, sneakers, and his hands temporarily uncuffed while he was in the courtroom.
Wilson is being sentenced for getting drunk and shooting at his colleagues from his home on Easter weekend last year. Most of the charges initially filed against him have been dismissed as part of a plea deal. Instead, he could serve between six and twenty years in prison for the remaining assault, criminal mischief and weapons misconduct charges.
The first part of the sentencing hearing in Juneau Superior Court on Thursday focused touched little on the four-hour shooting incident on Black Wolf Way. Instead, the emphasis was on what happened leading up to it. How did Troy Wilson lose control? Why did he lash out at his former colleagues and eventually fire as many as 75 rounds at them in the dark?
Former wife Julie Fowler-Wilson described the event as she sought refuge at a neighbor’s house.
Everytime I heard a gunshot, I assumed he was dead.”
Even before the shooting, she knew their 25-year marriage was falling apart.
The son of an Echo Ranch Bible Camp employee, the young Troy Wilson married his childhood and high school friend. They were both active in church youth groups even after he started work as a Juneau police officer. He was almost let go as a rookie, but he rapidly rose to the rank of lieutenant in eleven years. He worked as a school resource officer and became supervisor of the special operations unit that included investigations and the department’s SWAT team.
Wilson took the stand for nearly two hours on Thursday describing how he became depressed and how the simultaneous alcohol abuse allowed him to lose his inhibitions and act impulsively.
None of what I said today, or have said, or will say even as I get asked further questions, doesn’t change anything that happened that night. Doesn’t justify it. Can’t make it right. I don’t want those to be excuses. They’re just simply the experiences that I’ve had that have taken me down the path where I have made wrong choices, wrong decisions, and — ultimately — wrong actions.”
One key incident may have occurred during his daughter’s twelfth birthday. Wilson was called in to supervise the serving of a search warrant. The resident escaped to the roof and shot himself as Wilson approached. Wilson then tried to return home to his daughter’s party like nothing happened. That was followed only months later with his mother being diagnosed with terminal cancer.
Wilson became withdrawn and unable to solve his own problems, and slowly began to drink more and more. He contemplated several forms of suicide, but he admitted that he lacked the courage to follow through. In 2008, he sent a distressing message to his colleague and then-friend Lieutenant Kris Sell. She and Captain Jerry Nankervis picked him up, served him a meal at Sell’s house, talked to him, and tried to get him to sober up. But Sell was quickly called back to the Wilson home after he and Julie started fighting. Wilson kicked Sell and placed a form of a debilitating neck hold on her. She had to hit back to free herself. Wilson was then hospitalized in the mental health unit and suspended for two weeks.
Sell still hurts from that incident.
He did not apologize to me and there was no remorse. The closest he came was to say ‘I shouldn’t have done it, but…’ And then he railed in his anger about how the Department was screwing him over by addressing this behavior.”
Wilson went to counseling voluntarily, but he apparently thought his public image would be tarnished if he showed up at more Alcoholic Anonymous meetings or sought treatment. He was eventually declared unfit for duty and placed on administrative leave. He signed up for alcohol aversion therapy, attended another treatment facility, and then was hospitalized again after recalling sexual abuse by a family friend when he was young. Wilson planned to fight his termination at the Juneau Police Department, but he was eventually allowed to resign. Months before the shooting, he picked up a lower-paying state job in juvenile probation, but he also relapsed into alcohol abuse.
This 911 call on the evening of April 7th, 2012 may have saved his life:
Dispatcher: “911, where is your emergency?”
Julie Wilson: (sobbing) “9200 Black Wolf Way”
Dispatcher: “9200 where?”
Wilson: “Black Wolf Way”
Dispatcher: “What’s going on?”
Wilson: “Troy is suicidal. You guys have got to (indistinguishable)”
Dispatcher: “Who is suicidal?”
Dispatcher “OK. And what’s going on?”
Wilson: “A gun! No! He’s got a gun!”
Dispatcher: “(indistinguishable)…he’s got the gun?…”
Wilson: (screaming) “Troy! No! No!”
Dispatcher: “What’s he doing? Ma’am?…Ma’am?… Has he got the gun right now? …Ma’am?” (line goes dead)
Because of his excessive intoxication, Wilson said he remembers very little of what happened that night. But based on conversations with the crisis negotiator on the scene, Wilson still harbored plenty of misplaced anger at the Juneau Police Department brass for the way he was treated.
Wilson started his testimony by apologizing for nearly fifteen minutes to his former colleagues and their families, his wife and daughter, other people in the community that he let down, and the way the incident reflected on Juneau Police and Juvenile Probation.
Wilson said he still has a long ways to go.
I don’t know, at this point, where all of this is going to lead. I don’t know exactly what my future looks like. I’m optimistic. I know the direction that I want to head. I know the things that are important to me now. I look forward to someday, maybe, when I can get back out into the community because I still think that I have things that I can offer in a positive way.”
After hearing the testimony of Wilson’s father, and a psychiatrist who evaluated Wilson, the statements of two officers who responded to his home, Juneau Superior Court Judge Philip Pallenberg said that he needed more time to collect his thoughts. The sentence will be handed down on Friday morning in what may again be a full courtroom.
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