The trial of Timothy Paul Schaeffer began Wednesday afternoon in 4th Judicial District Court, after a 12-person jury was selected earlier in the morning. Sheridan Media's Mary Jo Johnson with the report.
All of the State's witnesses were able to take the stand, including Schaeffer's fellow poker players at Willey's Lounge, three officers of the Sheridan Police Department who responded to the scene on the morning of October 24th, 2009 and the evidence technician from the Sheridan PD.
Of the six card players, five testified that a friendly after hours game of poker had been taking place, until an argument broke out between Schaeffer and Brian “Beaver” Legerski over a beer which Schaeffer had pulled out of a duffel bag. The bar's owner, Spencer Willey, had told Schaeffer that he could not drink any alcohol after the bar was closed.
Testimony revealed that Schaeffer became angry over that rule; the witnesses said the Legerski and Schaeffer stood up, with Legerski then taking Schaeffer to the ground and holding him there to try to calm him down and get back to the game. Testimony revealed that three different times over the course of about ten to fifteen minutes, the two went to the ground, punched each other, resulting in Legerski going twice into the restroom to clean up – first with a bloody nose, and then after his two front teeth had been knocked out.
The first time Legerski went into the restroom, the witnesses testified, Schaeffer took what appeared to be a small pistol from a duffel bag and waved it around at the other card players, ultimately pointing it one of them. Willey said he got the gun away from him. Legerski returned to the scene to see what was happening and that's when the second scuffle and punch to the mouth came. The second time he was in the restroom, they testified, Schaeffer followed him with a small taser, and tased Legerski in the chest.
Throughout this whole time, the players testified, they were trying to get Schaeffer to calm down and just leave. After 9-1-1 was called, Schaeffer did finally begin walking home when Officers Jim Arzy, Gerald Rasmussen and Dan Keller arrived on scene.
All of the Willey's Lounge witnesses testified that they had never seen that type of gun before; Officer Arzy said he confiscated it from Schaeffer after searching him, and identified it as a “bird bomb” gun typically used by Game & Fish officers to scare away animals. Arzy said that while it could be considered a flare gun, it still was designed to shoot a projectile that could seriously injure someone if discharged at them directly.
On cross examination of each bar patron, Public Defender Robert Jones asked if they knew or had witnessed evidence in the time of knowing Schaeffer at past poker games that he was a disabled veteran. All said they'd never witnessed him showing any signs of a mental or physical disability.
UPDATE! Schaeffer was to take the stand this morning, but before the jury was even admitted into the courtroom, his attorney, Public Defender Robert Jones, informed Judge John Fenn that Schaeffer wanted to “fire” him and get another attorney. Judge Fenn told him he'd had an opportunity before, and wouldn't allow it. Schaeffer lost his temper and made a gesture and swore, resulting in Sheriff's deputies restraining him and removing him from the courtroom. Court is scheduled to reconvene at 1 this afternoon.