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#MaketaTrial: Day 5 of testimony

#MaketaTrial: Day 5 of testimony

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Prosecutors finished calling their 24 witnesses to the stand Friday, in the trial against former El Paso County Sheriff, Terry Maketa.

Prosecutor Chris Wilcox began day five of testimony by questioning Sgt. Emory Ray Gerhart with the El Paso County Sheriff’s office. Gerhart was also questioned for hours on Thursday.

"What was the environment like at the Sheriff's office during Maketa's term?," Prosecutor Chris Wilcox asked.

"There was a lot of stress in the Sheriff's office. If you weren't supporting Undersheriff Paula Presley, you were not going to be held in good favor. When you have to deal with people in the field who don't like you and when you don't feel safe around your coworkers, it's not a good work environment," Gerhart testified in court Friday.

Another key witness to take the stand Friday, current Sheriff Bill Elder. In 2013, scandal rocked the El Paso County Sheriff's Office when rumors swirled that an internal affairs file went missing.

The file allegedly detailed misdeeds of Elder. Many thought the file was stolen to hide dirt about Elder.

“Did you steal an internal affairs file from the Sheriff’s office?” Prosecutor Mark Hurlbert asked.
“Absolutely not," Elder responded.

At the time the file went missing, Elder was one of the leading candidates for Sheriff.

“Did you direct somebody from your campaign to steal an IA file from the Sheriff’s office?” Hurlbert asked.

“I didn’t think there was an IA file. Therefore, why would I direct anyone to steal it?” Elder responded.

In previous media reports, Elder suggested the whole thing was fabricated by then Sheriff Maketa to start an investigation and make Elder look bad.

In testimony, El Paso County public information officer Jacqueline Kirby testified about a conversation she overheard about the file between Maketa and former undersheriff Paula Presley.

“He looked at the undersheriff Paula at the time and said, 'You need to bring me the file.' And undersheriff Presley said, 'I’m going to have to go home and get it.' The sheriff then said, 'Well that's what you need to do.'”

Kirby believed they were talking about the Elder file, because it was brought up in conversation moments before.

“My reaction was, oh my gosh. We heard about this missing file for months, did they just say what we thought?”

"What happened after?," Hurlbert asked.

"I later walked by Maketa's office and saw a box sitting in his front office, as soon as Presley saw me she closed the door. I could tell the box contained some files, but I couldn't see the name," Kirby responded.

"Did Presley live close enough to the Sheriff's office to leave work and get the files,"Hurlbert asked.

"I saw the box several hours after the Sheriff directed her to go home and get it," Kirby responded.

The defense fired back with a prior statement from Kirby, claiming she is exaggerating the truth.

"In a September 2014 interview that was tape recorded, you say you knew they were talking about a file that might have been associated with Elder. But you never heard them say Elder," Defense Attorney Pamela Mackey said.

"I can recall it was the Elder IA file," Kirby responded.

Mackey and Defense Attorney David Kaplan than began calling their witnesses to the stand. Defense attorney's will continue questioning on Monday. It's unclear if Maketa will testify. 

Maketa faces multiple felony charges including extortion, victim tampering and misconduct, all stemming from his third term in office. His co-defendants, former undersheriff Paula Presley and former commander "John" San Agustin, are scheduled for separate trials later this year.

Closing arguments are on track for Monday and a verdict is expected to be reached next week.

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