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Attorney: Trauma explains 'poor memory' of woman connected to Draper officer's death

Published: Monday, Sept. 16 2013 5:40 p.m. MDT

Traci Vaillancourt is wheeled into the courtroom at the Matheson Courthouse for her arraignment, Monday, September 16, 2013, on charges related to the fatal shooting of a Draper police officer. (Rick Egan) Traci Vaillancourt is wheeled into the courtroom at the Matheson Courthouse for her arraignment, Monday, September 16, 2013, on charges related to the fatal shooting of a Draper police officer. (Rick Egan)

SALT LAKE CITY — Victoria King's lip quivered Monday as she talked about seeing her sister Traci Vaillancourt for the first time since her hospitalization and arrest.

"It was hard. I don't know what else to say. It was hard," King said.

Minutes earlier, Vaillancourt, 34, appeared in a wheelchair in 3rd District Court with a sling on her right arm.

"It hurts to see her like that," her sister said.

Vaillancourt appeared in court to answer two charges of obstructing justice, a second-degree felony, in the shooting death of Draper Police Sgt. Derek Johnson. Defense attorney Ryan Holtan said he has not yet been able to review Vaillancourt's statements. Prosecutors say those statements were inconsistent, which led them to file criminal charges against her.

Traci Vaillancourt is wheeled into the courtroom at the Matheson Courthouse for her arraignment, Monday, September 16, 2013, on charges related to the fatal shooting of a Draper police officer. (Rick Egan) Traci Vaillancourt is wheeled into the courtroom at the Matheson Courthouse for her arraignment, Monday, September 16, 2013, on charges related to the fatal shooting of a Draper police officer. (Rick Egan)

On Sept. 1, Vaillancourt was with boyfriend Timothy Troy Walker, 34, when he allegedly shot and killed Johnson. Police say he also shot Vaillancourt before shooting himself.

Walker did not show up for court Monday. His attorney, Denise Porter, said it was because of "medical concerns."

King said she believes Walker is a "coward" for not appearing.

Holtan said he hopes charges against his client will be dropped, saying that being shot contributed to Vaillancourt's poor memory of the events of Sept. 1.

"She was a gunshot victim. I can only imagine the kind of trauma it creates and the fact that she has a poor memory of something that happened that terrible, it doesn't surprise me whatsoever," he said. "She was shot by someone who was a terrible person."

Traci Vaillancourt is wheeled into the courtroom at the Matheson Courthouse for her arraignment, Monday, September 16, 2013, on charges related to the fatal shooting of a Draper police officer. (Rick Egan) Traci Vaillancourt is wheeled into the courtroom at the Matheson Courthouse for her arraignment, Monday, September 16, 2013, on charges related to the fatal shooting of a Draper police officer. (Rick Egan)

Holtan approached King and placed a hand on her back as she spoke to reporters after the hearing.

King had not visited her sister at the jail, she said, because she was still working through the emotions of having her sister connected to the incidents surrounding Johnson's death.

"My heart still bleeds for the Johnson family," she said.

Walker is charged with aggravated murder, a first-degree felony; discharge of a firearm, a first-degree felony; three counts of felony discharge of a firearm, a third-degree felony; and possession of a firearm by a restricted person, a third-degree felony.

The cases for Vaillancourt and Walker were transferred to West Jordan Justice Court. The next hearing will be Oct. 8.

Traci Vaillancourt is wheeled into the courtroom at the Matheson Courthouse for her arraignment, Monday, September 16, 2013, on charges related to the fatal shooting of a Draper police officer. (Rick Egan) Traci Vaillancourt is wheeled into the courtroom at the Matheson Courthouse for her arraignment, Monday, September 16, 2013, on charges related to the fatal shooting of a Draper police officer. (Rick Egan)

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