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Jury deliberates case against Jefferson County sheriff

The trial of Jefferson County Sheriff Blair Olsen moved into its final phase Wednesday evening.

Both the prosecution and defense finished submitting their evidence and made their closing arguments, and the jury was deliberating the case.

The trial’s focus has been on the cell phone paid by the county that was in possession of Olsen’s wife, Marie. The defense says the phone was kept for backup purposes.

Olsen, who is facing three felony charges of misusing public money, took the stand Wednesday to respond to recordings wherein he said perhaps he should have given his wife’s phone back.

“When I first issued that phone to her, she was not used to keeping her phone on her person at all times, and I would try to call her periodically, and the phone – she would not answer. It would typically be in her purse or somewhere not immediately available,” he said. “And yes, I did tell (the investigator) that. I think I used the words, ‘She shut it off.’ Now, whether she shut it off or just didn’t answer it – hell, we’re talking 10, 12 years ago – but I did have some frustration that she didn’t have it available a lot at first.”

Various Jefferson County employees testified on Day 3, including Jerilee Grover, a dispatch employee; Barbara Poole, the sheriff’s administrative assistant; and Gayla Hernandez, who used to serve as Jefferson County dispatch and now is the jail sergeant; said they didn’t know about the situation with the cell phone until they saw it in media reports.

Grover said she tried calling the phone, but Marie Olsen didn’t answer. Hernandez said when she tried calling the phone, it went to voicemail, but it was Sheriff Olsen’s voice.

Then former driver license’s department employee Raedene Huntsman took the stand, and said she was made aware of the phone when her supervisor, Andrea Lee, told her about it. Huntsman described Lee as “bitter and crazy” after a conversation with Sheriff Olsen. Huntsman testified that conversation was about an alleged inappropriate relationship between Lee and now former Chief Deputy Jeff Poole.

She said she heard Lee say she was going to take down the sheriff.

Huntsman also said that Lee made the work environment hostile toward her.

The trial is taking place in Twin Falls County to ensure fairness.


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