A Maricopa County Superior Court judge on Thursday entered not guilty pleas for Essa Williams and set several court dates leading up to an April 28 trial date.
Williams was arrested early the morning of Dec. 14 at an apartment complex where Officer Tyler Moldovan, 22, was shot as police searched for a man seen running from a car that reportedly had been driven erratically a short time earlier.
A Dec. 14 police probable-cause statement said Moldovan, 22, was placed on life support after being shot multiple times, including once in the head, and the Police Department tweeted Wednesday that he remained in extremely critical condition.
Williams, who remains jailed in lieu of $3 million bond, was not present in court during his brief arraignment hearing Thursday.
A Dec. 23 indictment charged Williams with attempt to commit first-degree murder, attempt to commit aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, resisting arrest and three counts of being a prohibited person in possession of a firearm.
The Maricopa County Public Defender’s Office, which is representing Williams, did not immediately respond to a request by The Associated Press for comment on the allegations.
The probable-cause statement said police recovered the handgun used to shoot Moldovan and also found a second handgun, which had an extended magazine, in the patio where Williams had been hiding at the apartment complex.
Williams has nine prior felony convictions, including armed robbery, aggravated assault and endangerment, the probable-cause statement said.
Williams was sentenced to multiple prison terms in 2017 and was released in 2020, according to Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation and Reentry records.
Phoenix Police Officer Tyler Moldovan and Essa Kolareh Eugene Williams (suspect)
Officer Moldovan's wife updates husband's condition
Chelsea Moldovan, the wife of Officer Tyler Moldovan, released a statement through the Phoenix Police Department on Jan. 11, saying her husband suffered extensive neurological injuries, is in stable condition and remains on a ventilator.
"We have been praying for a miracle and see glimpses of one every day," she said. "We know that Tyler recognizes those around him and responds with facial expressions like smiling. When no one thought he would, he opened his eyes. We hold onto our faith that Tyler will continue to make progress. He has been a miracle already and the progress he has made in three weeks alone is marvelous; the impossible is being made possible."
Phoenix Police Officer Tyler Molodvan and his wife, Chelsea. (Credit: Phoenix Police Department)
Sgt. Ann Justus with the Phoenix Police Department says, "Tyler is a fighter, and he has fought." She adds, "The fight is not over. It’s still definitely an uphill battle, but these baby steps are nothing short of miraculous."
Doctors say gunshot wounds to the head often turn fatal, but there are rare occasions when that is not the case.
Dr. Frank LoVecchio, emergency room physician for Valleywise Health explained, "People do survive gunshot wounds to the head … going through the skull, things we look for are, what degree of brain damage on a CT scan, most importantly how the patient looks. But, people do survive gunshot wounds to the head."
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