City e-mails raise questions about key witness in officer's murder trial
The documents were e-mailed Tuesday evening to lawyers on both sides of the Troy Meade case. They were sent by a civil attorney hired to defend the city in a multimillion-dollar lawsuit over the shooting of Niles Meservey.
The documents include notes that suggest questions surfaced months ago about the truthfulness of officer Steven Klocker, a key witness for Snohomish County prosecutors. Klocker, who continues to work as a police officer, last week testified he saw no reason for Meade to open fire.
It wasn't immediately clear why the city waited until now to raise questions.
“The city recently learned about these documents, and out of an abundance of caution, wanted to make them available to you,” Lou Peterson, a Seattle attorney, wrote prosecutors and Meade's attorney David Allen.
The lawyers told Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Gerald Knight about the records on Wednesday morning. Allen told the judge he was exploring a delay in the trial to probe what the records may mean for his client. After court, however, Allen said he'd decided against that approach, and declined to discuss why.
Deputy prosecutor John Adcock declined to comment on the records, saying it would be inappropriate while he was in the middle of a trial.
The nearly 300 pages of documents Peterson sent attorneys included transcripts from two misdemeanor trials in Everett Municipal Court, one in October and another in February. In both cases Klocker testified as a prosecution witness.
The lawyer also sent handwritten notes from a Feb. 18 meeting between Kathy Atwood, an Everett deputy police chief, and city prosecutors. Those prosecutors apparently were unhappy with Klocker's courtroom testimony in the earlier Everett cases.
The notes indicate that at least two Everett prosecutors said they wouldn't again call Klocker as a witness. The notes also suggested that a municipal court judge had privately raised questions about Klocker's truthfulness, and was “concerned he was lying.”
One of the trials involved a man who was charged with assault after a bar fight. Another dealt with a man accused of beating his wife and ignoring court orders to stay away.
Everett defense attorney Mark Stephens represented the man accused of domestic violence. There was conflicting evidence about the legality of the court orders, the trial transcript shows. In that case, Klocker told jurors he, too, was confused enough about the status of court orders that he telephoned a city prosecutor for direction on whether to arrest the man.
The defense was based in part on the defendant's confusion about the no-contact orders and Klocker's testimony likely helped win the man's acquittal, Stephens said.
“I thought he was very credible, and the jury bought it and they walked my guy,” he said.
The city is facing a $15 million civil rights lawsuit over Meade's June 10 decision to shoot Meservey seven times while the drunken man sat at the wheel of his Chevrolet Corvette. Peterson was hired by the city to coordinate its civil defense.
He has been in the courtroom during parts of Meade's trial. He did not respond to messages seeking comment.
“The city is not able to provide additional information at this time,” Everett spokeswoman Kate Reardon said.
Allen and Peterson apparently have corresponded about the case. A message was forwarded to prosecutors last week. In the e-mail to Peterson, Allen shared a copy of a legal brief he was filing in the case and mentioned other motions he planned to file. Prosecutors provided The Herald a copy of the message Wednesday under public records laws.
They rested their case against Meade on Wednesday.
Allen asked Knight to dismiss the charges, arguing lack of evidence. He also called for a mistrial. He said Meade's case was prejudiced by the graphic photographs of Meservey's wounds shown to jurors. One juror fainted.
Knight denied Allen's motions. He ruled jurors will be allowed to consider Meade's self-defense claim.
There's pivotal, albeit, conflicting testimony about whether the Corvette's backup lights were on when Meade opened fire, the judge said.
Based in part on that testimony, Knight also ruled that he will allow Allen to call a woman expected to testify that Meservey made seemingly suicidal statements in the days before he was killed.
The woman said Meservey complained he was about to lose everything, and that he pointed to his Corvette, and indicated that he didn't care if he lived or died, court papers said.
Prosecutors argued that testimony would be irrelevant because what matters is only what Meade knew before the shooting, and he had no idea Meservey may have been depressed.
Knight ruled the statements could illustrate Meservey's state of mind.
Allen on Wednesday called two former Everett police officers to testify on Meade's behalf. Both were involved in an incident in 2006 in which one of the officers was hit by a suspect's fleeing car. Meade and another officer opened fire. Prosecutors ruled that shooting was legally justified.
Allen has told jurors that watching a fellow officer get struck by a car factored into Meade's decision-making the night he shot Meservey.
Kelso police officer Kirk Wiper, a former firearms instructor at the state police academy, also testified that given the circumstances, Meade had to shoot at Meservey or risk being hurt.
Later, when questioned by prosecutors, Wiper acknowledged there were other options; he just didn't think they'd work.
Meade was expected to testify today.
Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463; firstname.lastname@example.org.
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