COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (CBS4)– Opening statements and the first witnesses were heard Thursday before an El Paso County jury in the corruption case of the former El Paso County Sheriff.
Terry Maketa has been accompanied by his wife throughout the court proceedings. His attorney is Pam Mackey, known for her representation of basketball star Kobe Bryant against rape charges that were ultimately dismissed.
Maketa sat and watched in the courtroom as opening statements were made Thursday.
First prosecutor Chris Wilcox told the jury that the former sheriff engaged in acts of retaliation against employees who crossed him.
“It’s all about his exercise of power,” said Wilcox.
The charges range from extortion to conspiracy to witness tampering and official misconduct.
For the defense, Mackey painted a picture of a man who served his community.
“In everything he did he thought about the safety of the citizens of El Paso County and the safety of his deputies,” Mackey said.
The first witness was a female employee of a jail health care contractor. Prosecutors maintain that Maketa told her bosses to have her moved or he would pull the contract.
In the middle was Paula Pressley, the former Undersheriff of El Paso County and a Maketa ally.
Mackey got the fired employee, Wendy Haber, to admit on the stand that there was bad blood between her and the sheriff after she refused to run Pressley’s campaign to replace Maketa as sheriff.
The trial is expected to last about two weeks.