SALT LAKE CITY -- A woman accused of helping her boyfriend kill a Draper Police officer has been released from jail after accepting a plea deal.
“I feel like I`ve been rung out like a rag yet exhilaratingly refreshed, I feel great, it hasn`t hit me yet actually,” said Traci Vaillancourt following her release from Salt Lake County Jail Tuesday.
Vaillancourt had been incarcerated for the past 15 months. She was facing two felony charges of obstructing of justice stemming back from the Sept. 1, 2013 murder of Draper police Sgt. Derek Johnson.
Vaillancourt, and her boyfriend at the time, Timothy Troy Walker, were sitting in car on the side of the road when Sgt. Johnson stopped to see if they needed help. Walker shot and killed Johnson, then shot Vaillancourt, before turning the gun on himself in a failed murder-suicide attempt.
Prosecutors say Vaillancourt tried to mislead investigators regarding the case. Vaillancourt has always claimed she had nothing to do with Johnson’s murder.
It appeared the case would go to trial, until Vaillancourt decided to agree to a no contest plea in exchange for her freedom.
“She wanted to minimize potential risk and that’s why she made the decision to proceed with the plea today, to secure her release before Christmas,” said Vaillancourt’s attorney, Matthew Kober.
Sgt. Johnson’s family says they are satisfied with the court decision, and are glad they won’t have to sit through another trial.
Walker has already pleaded guilty to Johnson’s murder and has been sentenced to life in prison.
“So relieved that our family doesn’t have to face that, worry about that, go through the emotional drama of that and re-drudge all the details of that day again,” said Johnson’s widow Shante.
According to the plea deal, Vaillancourt now faces 36 months of probation. Once complete her felony charges will be reduced to a misdemeanor.
“She could end up right back in prison so we’re wishing her the best and hoping that she does well,” said Johnson’s father Randy.
Vaillancourt said she would like to reach out to the Johnson family.
“I don’t even know where to start. I have a lot I would like to say to them,” Vaillancourt said.