Judge to review documents concerning Pierce County deputy’s relationship with widow

Staff writerOctober 4, 2013 

A Pierce County judge on Friday agreed to review documents associated with the Internal Affairs investigation of sheriff’s detective Sgt. Denny Wood to see whether lawyers representing a murder defendant can use them to discredit Wood on the stand.

Superior Court Judge Linda Lee is expected to issue a ruling Oct. 18.

Attorney’s representing Tyler Savage, 21, requested access to the records as they prepare their case for trial.

Attorney Les Tolzin said the defense team needs the records to prepare their cross-examination of Wood, who helped investigate the 2010 rape and killing of Kimberly “Kimmie” Daily, a developmentally disabled 16-year-old South Hill girl.

Savage has pleaded not guilty to an aggravated first-degree murder charge and is expected to go to trial later this fall.

Tolzin said early this week that allegations of misconduct against Wood, including that he pursued a personal relationship with the widow of a homicide victim in a case he was investigating, would erode his credibility and should be fair game during questioning.

“I still think this is clearly relevant material,” the attorney said Friday.

Court documents filed Friday, including a letter signed by sheriff’s Sgt. Scott Provost, give a more detailed account of the allegations against Wood, a veteran detective who’s been on paid leave since January.

The May 8 letter was addressed to deputy prosecutor Stephen Penner, assistant chief of the criminal division, and cc’d to Wood.

Penner later turned the letter over to Tolzin. Prosecutors are required by law to divulge information about their witnesses that might be helpful to the defense.

According to the letter, Wood was assigned to be lead detective in a June 2012 homicide. He interviewed the victim’s widow as part of his investigation and saw her again when serving a search warrant at her home, the letter states.

“Detective Sgt. Wood stated that his professional relationship with (the widow) became flirtatious and resulted in kissing,” the letter states.

Wood denied that the relationship went beyond kissing.

He told investigators he used his department-issued Blackberry and his personal smart phone to exchange text messages and calls, many of them personal, with the woman between August and December 2012, when he says he ended the relationship, according to the letter.

Wood also said he “wiped” the memory card from the Blackberry after his wife found a message from the widow on his personal phone in December, the letter states.

The letter points out that the Sheriff’s Department “has not at this time made any factual findings as a result of the investigation.”

Sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer reiterated that point Friday, saying Sheriff Paul Pastor has yet to review the results of the investigation. That could come as soon as next week, Troyer said.

“Until the sheriff reviews the final investigation, no decisions will be made,” the spokesman said.

The homicide case, which remains unsolved, has been assigned to another agency.

Adam Lynn: 253-597-8644
adam.lynn@thenewstribune.com
@TNTadam

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