ELKO – Opening arguments began Wednesday in the trial of a Spring Creek man accused of the attempted murder of a police officer almost nine months ago.
Tony A. Pressler, 38, pleaded not guilty before Elko District Judge Al Kacin to eight counts related to an incident that included two chases and a stolen vehicle on the morning of Dec. 21.
The felony charges include attempted murder with a deadly weapon, eluding a police officer, burglary and grand larceny of a motor vehicle.
The incident started when officers responded to a 6 a.m. call reporting a domestic violence incident behind Northeastern Nevada Regional Hospital.
According to court records, the suspect fled the scene in a pickup truck and drove on Powderhouse Road to a shed, followed by Officer Joshua Taylor.
Taylor was getting out of his patrol car when the truck reportedly accelerated and drove toward him. Taylor then fired rounds at the truck as it was speeding away.
Later that morning a resident reported a stolen SUV. An Elko County Sheriff’s deputy spotted it on Merino Drive towing another vehicle and drew her gun, commanding both vehicles to stop.
The driver then accelerated and led the deputy on a high-speed chase on Spring Valley Parkway at speeds of 80-100 mph. The vehicle drove through a barbed-wire fence and hit several embankments, evading the deputy.
The vehicle was then spotted on Sterling Drive and Pressler was located at a residence on Dillon Drive and arrested after 9 a.m. that morning.
Deputy District Attorney Mark Mills said jurors will hear testimony from officers and an Elko County Sheriff’s deputy who identified Pressler as being behind the wheel in the two pursuits.
Sometime after the first emergency call, an Elko resident reported to police her Toyota Highlander was missing from her driveway and the key was gone from her kitchen counter. Mills said the theft added to law enforcement’s activity that morning.
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“So, now what we have is the Elko Police Department and the Sheriff’s Department, at this point, investigating these incidents,” Mills said. “They’re on the lookout for the stolen vehicle. They’re on the lookout for Tony Pressler based on Officer Taylor’s having identified Mr. Pressler as the driver of the pickup truck.”
Mills asked the jury to find Pressler guilty on all counts.
Representing Pressler, attorney Diana Hillewaert told jurors the evidence presented in the trial would show that Pressler was not the driver of the vehicles as stated by authorities and that “there are two sides to every story.”
“Keep in mind, that this is the district attorney’s interpretation of what he thinks are the facts,” Hillewaert said. “In this case, you’re going to find that the two sides differ greatly.”
Hillewaert said the defense would show the jury that there were inaccuracies in several areas of the investigation, including Taylor’s statement about the pursuit from the hospital to the shed on Powderhouse Road and his identification of Pressler at that time because it was dark.
“He couldn’t identify him,” Hillewaert said. “So, at this point, he’s never identified. I believe that the evidence will convince you that he couldn’t have identified him at this building either. So there is no identification of the driver of that vehicle.”
Hillewaert said it is still unknown who was behind the wheel that morning.
“I will refer to him as the driver, because we don’t know who was driving that vehicle,” she said.
It would be up to the prosecution to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt in the matter, Hillewaert added.
“What I am going to ask the jury to do is to really hold the prosecution to their job, that they show beyond a reasonable doubt that it was Mr. Pressler in that white truck,” she said.
“It’s a case where you’re going to have to weigh the evidence very carefully but you’re going to have to pay very close attention to all of it.”
The trial is scheduled to last two weeks.