Any other day, State Police Trooper Aaron "AJ" Huntsman would be standing in uniform at the front door of the Golden Hill Street courthouse in Bridgeport, screening the dozens of accused criminals coming into the courthouse.
But Monday, he was just another defendant, accused of stealing $3,700 from the mangled body of an Orange man killed in a crash on the Merritt Parkway in Fairfield.
Dressed in a dark suit, the 43-year-old Huntsman stood with his lawyer, Ryan McGuigan, before Superior Court Judge Eddie Rodriguez Jr. and pleaded not guilty to two counts of third-degree larceny, and one count each of interfering with police and tampering with evidence.
He asked to be tried before by jury. The judge continued the case to Jan. 18.
"Not today," McGuigan responded when asked if his client had a comment as they left the courthouse.
Huntsman is currently on administrative duty, pending an internal affairs investigation.
Following his arrest, Huntsman spent two weeks in a drug rehabilitation center for a claimed addiction to pain medication, court records show.
Huntsman is accused of stealing $3,700 from the body of 49-year-old John Scalesse on Sept. 22.
Scalesse, a former executive of the JAS Masonry, LLC, in Milford, was killed when his motorcycle crashed into a construction company truck on the northbound lanes of the Merritt Parkway near Exit 44.
State Police said Huntsman has maintained his innocence even after he was shown a video that police say shows him the money. The scene was recorded by the dashboard camera of his own cruiser, according to State Police.
The arrest warrant affidavit states that Huntsman, who was the first trooper at the crash scene, walked over to where Scalesse lay on the ground, bent down and picked up Scalesse's gold chain from a pool of blood. Later, Huntsman told Scalesse's grieving father that he didn't see money in the victim's possession.
State Police later said they found the cash secured with a rubber band and under the front seat of Huntsman's cruiser.