Man who allegedly killed Utah police officer appears in court
West Jordan • An uneasy silence filled the air Tuesday morning as accused cop killer Timothy Troy Walker was led into court.
Maybe it was because of his alleged crime: Walker is accused of ambushing and killing Draper police Sgt. Derek Johnson last month before turning the gun on his girlfriend, Traci Vaillancourt, and then shooting himself.
Or maybe it was the sight of him: Chains around his ankles and handcuffs on his wrists, Walker stood before the judge in yellow jail scrubs with a metal rig of copper and silver wires holding his mouth shut.
He can’t speak, said defense attorney Denise Porter. So, Walker nodded to show the judge he understood what was happening.
The appearance was brief, just long enough for attorneys to ask for another court date.
Walker, 34, is charged with first-degree felony aggravated murder for Sgt. Derek Johnson’s death on Sept. 1. Prosecutors have said that seeking the death penalty for Walker is a possibility.
Porter, who told 3rd District Judge Mark Kouris that she had not received a complete record of the case from prosecutors, did not comment to the crowd of reporters and television cameras outside the courtroom.
Walker also faces charges of attempted homicide for allegedly trying to kill Vaillancourt during the same shooting episode, and three counts of discharge of a firearm and one count of possession of a weapon by a restricted person, all third-degree felonies.
Vaillancourt, 34, also appeared in court Tuesday.
Though the two defendants were brought before the same judge, they were transported to their appearances separately and kept apart while at the courthouse.
Vaillancourt’s attorneys said it’s important to keep them apart for legal and personal reasons.
"There are a lot of emotions there," said defense attorney Matthew Kober. "These two have a long history together. But they’re on different sides of the table in this case."
Kober noted they are optimistic about working out a plea agreement with prosecutors, or having the charges against Vaillancourt dropped.
She is charged with two counts of second-degree felony obstruction of justice for allegedly lying to investigators about what happened on the day Walker shot her and the Draper sergeant.
The woman, who was hospitalized for nearly a week after the Sept. 1 shooting and had been in a wheelchair, appeared Tuesday with her left arm in a sling. She still has pains where the bullet struck her, Kober said, but she’s come a long way.
As she was led into the courtroom, Vaillancourt smiled at her attorneys and the judge. She wore a blue jumpsuit and swung her long, wavy hair behind her as she walked.
Her sister was also present in the courtroom, but declined to comment.
According to charging documents, Johnson, 32, was in a marked Draper City police vehicle at about 6 a.m. on Sept. 1, when he stopped at 13200 South Fort Street and noticed Walker standing outside his Volvo.