ITHACA, N.Y. — Jury selection began Monday for the trial of Tompkins County Sheriff’s Deputy Jeremy Vann, who is facing 14 charges for a series of crimes he allegedly committed against a woman about two years ago.
The trial has been delayed multiple times, including twice in September, and Vann has rejected several plea deal offers, which would have allowed him to not serve jail time and one of which would have allowed him to keep his job.
Vann is accused of attacking a woman, preventing her from calling 911, damaging property and choking a woman during a domestic dispute on March 29-30, 2015. He is also facing charges for a series of incidents that allegedly happened over several months.
His attorney Ray Schlather told potential jurors on Monday, “Deputy Vann is a really wonderful, good cop and he is very emotionally immature.”
He likened Vann’s maturity to that of an eighth-grader or 16-year-old boy.
“But it does not necessarily create criminality,” he said.
He and Assistant District Attorney Dan Johnson warned jurors that the details of the case could cause some of them discomfort and asked whether those would be factors when deciding the outcome of the trial.
For instance, Schlather said Vann was married but separated from his wife at the time of the incident, and dating two women. He mentioned that the case would contain references to mental health issues, abortion, cocaine use (though he said Vann did not use the drug), alcohol use, and unions.
He also gave a first reference to the fact that while Vann is still employed as a deputy, he is facing an administrative disciplinary hearing. Police have not commented on disciplinary matters regarding this case.
Four male jurors were selected Monday to serve during the trial.
The case against Vann has already been rife with controversy.
This month marks two years since the worst allegations against Vann occurred — about twice as long as most cases tend to take to be resolved — though it should be noted that there is no hard-and-fast rule for how long cases can last.
And a previous charge against Vann — second-degree criminal contempt — was dismissed from Ithaca City Court after Judge Scott Miller determined that former ADA Wendy Franklin had engaged in prosecutorial neglect when she did not inform a key witness of a court date.
Related: Tompkins judge: Prosecutor ‘neglect’ leads to dismissed charge against Tompkins deputy Jeremy Vann
Vann is charged with felonies for third-degree robbery, third-degree criminal mischief and fourth-degree grand larceny. Misdemeanor charges against him include third-degree assault, criminal obstruction of breathing or blood circulation, second-degree unlawful imprisonment, two counts of fourth-degree criminal mischief, fourth-degree tampering with a witness, third-degree criminal tampering, two counts of second-degree attempted coercion, prohibited use of weapons and prohibitions on the use and possession of firearms.
Previous charges against him — an additional robbery charge and tampering with physical evidence — were dismissed in November.
The Tompkins County Courthouse was closed Tuesday due to inclement weather. Jury selection might begin again Wednesday, pending weather.