Lawyers for a murder defendant hoping to use an Internal Affairs investigation to discredit a Pierce County sheriff’s sergeant on the stand won a small victory Friday when a judge ordered the department to release some documents.
Superior Court Judge Linda Lee asked prosecutors to hand over particular documents to the defense by Monday.
Deputy prosecutor Phil Sorensen and defense attorney Les Tolzin said they did not know what information is contained in the documents or how it would affect the upcoming trial of Tyler Savage, 21.
“The fact that we’re getting anything makes me kind of happy, but I don’t know yet what I’m getting,” Tolzin said after the judge’s ruling.
Savage pleaded not guilty to first-degree aggravated murder in the 2010 rape and killing of 16-year-old Kimberly Daily, a developmentally disabled South Hill girl who was missing for days before her body was found in a wooded area near her home.
The Internal Affairs investigation of sheriff’s Sgt. Denny Wood does not stem from that case but is being sought because Wood helped investigate Daily’s death.
The investigation involves allegations Wood developed a personal relationship with the widow of a homicide victim in a 2012 case he was investigating. Savage’s lawyers have argued that the accusations of misconduct speak to Wood’s character and could undermine his testimony during Savage’s trial.
Wood admitted he used his department-issued BlackBerry and personal smartphone to communicate with the woman between August and December 2012, when he says he ended the relationship, according to court documents.
Another agency is investigating the 2012 homicide case, which remains unsolved.
Before ordering certain documents released to the defense Friday, Lee noted that the Internal Affairs investigation is ongoing and tied to the unrelated homicide case.
That is in part why she ordered the documents sealed to everyone except the attorneys and investigators.
Sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer on Friday said that no action has been taken against Wood, and that the “chain of command” is reviewing the investigation.
“There will be no action until we go through our process,” Troyer said, adding that “We’re nearing the end.”Stacia Glenn: 253-597-8653 stacia.glenn@ thenewstribune.com