AP NEWS

Adams County Sheriff candidate York previously pulled from testifying over truthfulness

November 1, 2018 GMT

Adams County Sheriff candidate Brent York was pulled by prosecutors due to concerns about his truthfulness from testifying in the case against the man who was convicted of killing an Adams County Sheriff’s Deputy.

The case stemmed from a March 7, 2003 shooting during which Thomas Kramer of Adams County shot and killed Deputy Michael Shannon, who was first responder to a call from tree trimmers near Kramers property line. The officer, who joined the department around the same time as York, is the only member of the Adams County Sheriff’s Department to have ever been killed in the line of duty.

Kramer was convicted in 2004 of first-degree intentional homicide, attempted first-degree intentional homicide, and theft from a person or corpse, and was sentenced to life without parole. The case was prosecuted in part by former Adams County District Attorney Mark Thibodeau, under the direction of the United States Attorney General’s office.

“One of the most important assets that a police officer has going for them is a reputation for truthfulness,” Thibodeau said. “Once untruthful, that has to be revealed, legally and ethically to the defense in every case involving that officer. Because we had the strong suspicion that we did that York had been untruthful, we had to make a decision: Do we use York as a witness in the Shannon case because he was a potential witness, or do we avoid using him because of the issue that he created?”

Thibodeau expressed concern multiple times over potential Brady/Giglio issues with York, and he urged both former Sheriff Sindelar in 2003 and former Sheriff Renner in 2007 to investigate York’s issues with Brady/Giglio.

“Once the (Bitsky) criminal case was over, the attorney general’s office and myself had the strong suspicion that York had been untruthful in his police report of the incident. One and one made two to us,” said Thibodeau.

“We had a conversation… about obtaining the grand jury testimony of York. Although they did not grant York immunity in the federal prosecution case, they did indicate to York that they would do whatever they could to maintain the secrecy of the grand jury testimony.”

Grand jury testimony is generally not released except when there is a trial, according to Thibodeau, which was avoided because Bitsky entered into a plea deal.

“We notified the sheriff that even though we couldn’t criminally prosecute, there was action you could take,” said Thibodaeu. “I don’t know what (Sheriff) Sindelar did, if anything.”

Thibodeau stated that he did not know of the deposition in the civil case during which York again offered conflicting testimony, and his letter urging Sheriff Renner to investigate York in 2007 makes no mention of the deposition testimony.

During preparation for the prosecution of Kramer, Thibodeau said that both he and the attorney general’s office were unsure of how to proceed with York’s potential testimony.

“We couldn’t definitively prove that he was untruthful, so we were in a pickle,” said Thibodeau. “So we made a decision, and the Attorney General’s office was the lead in the prosecution, and they made a decision that they’re not going to use York in that (Kramer) case to avoid the issue altogether.”

“We were concerned about our legal and ethical responsibility under these facts… We didn’t want it to become a sideshow or become an issue in the courtroom in that case that was so important to law enforcement and Adams County.”

York, who recounted how officers came together after Shannon’s death when criticizing the workplace culture under current Sheriff Sam Wollin during a forum Oct. 10, has not returned requests for comment.