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Parts of Wayerski trial may be closed

By LeAnn R. Ralph

MENOMONIE — Portions of the Gary Wayerski trial in October may be closed.

Ben Webster, an assistant district attorney from Eau Claire County who is acting as a special prosecutor in the case, told the Honorable Judge William Stewart at a court hearing September 14 that he was concerned about explicit photos and images.

The videotapes, photos and DVDs should be shown to the court and the jury but not displayed in such a way that the general public can see them, Webster said.

The 57-year-old Wayerski formerly served as the police chief in Wheeler and is charged with multiple felonies related to sex crimes involving teenaged boys.

Judge Stewart said he would only allow the use of photos if they were hard copies and not digital images.

A hard copy of a photo can be shown directly to an individual, but it may not be possible to turn the screen sufficiently if the images are shown electronically, he said.

Wayerski’s attorney, Lester Liptak, told the court he had talked to Webster about the images and that he would like the hearing to be closed for the showing of the images.

Liptak said he was concerned about the number of images and the logistics of showing them.

If Liptak is requesting that portions of the trial be closed, he should a file a motion with the court, Judge Stewart said, noting that he would respond to any motions before the trial is scheduled to begin on October 8.

Webster wondered if a larger jury pool would be appropriate for the case.

The judge may want to consider an expanded list because of the media coverage, he said.

Local media have covered the Wayerski case, but the story also has been picked up by newspapers and other media outlets across the state of Wisconsin, and in some places across the country.

At one point early in the case, Judge Stewart declined a request for a change of venue due to local media coverage, because media all across the judicial district had covered the story, and cases cannot be moved outside of the district.

Judge Stewart noted that he has already asked for a larger jury pool.

The case originally was scheduled for trial in January, but was rescheduled to June, and then rescheduled again to October.

Wayerski was arrested last July, and the Wheeler Police Commission terminated Wayerski’s employment as police chief last October.

Wayerski had served part-time as the police chief in Wheeler for about a year.

Wayerski also served as a police officer in Colfax for nine months in 2004 and 2005.

A cash bond of $35,000 was initially set in July of last year and was reduced to $20,000 in November.

Wayerski has remained in custody in a location outside of Dunn County because of cases that were pending and had originated while he was working as the police chief in Wheeler.